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Taking stock: Examining the aftermath of 2019’s unicorn IPOs

In the span of six weeks ranging from March to May, six companies that had formerly been valued by VCs at more than $1 billion made their public debuts on Wall Street. How are they doing now?

In the span of six weeks ranging from March to May, six companies that had formerly been valued by VCs at more than $1 billion made their public debuts on Wall Street. The rash of IPOs brought in untold millions for the businesses and their investors. But many investors also retained major stakes in these one-time unicorns. And in some cases, the value of those stakes has been rapidly changing in recent weeks.

While other VC darlings like Slack and WeWork could still be hitting the public market before the year is out, the wildest days of 2019’s IPO frenzy might be behind us. So let’s look at how the companies that created the frenzy have been faring, in order of current market cap:


The headlines and hand-wringing have both been plentiful since Uber priced its IPO at $45 per share about three weeks ago, resulting in an offering that was still gargantuan, but not quite as gargantuan as everyone had expected a few months ago. In the immediate aftermath of that debut, stock in the ridehailing company dipped to nearly $36 per share, but that figure bounced back during Uber’s first full week of trading and has since hovered around $40 per share.

Shares finished normal trading Thursday at $39.80. A half-hour after the market closed, Uber released its first earnings report as a public company, falling roughly in line with analyst expectations and resulting in minimal impact in after-hours trading.

Uber closed Thursday with a market cap of about $67 billion, which is of course a huge number and a sign of the public market’s general belief in the company’s prospects. It’s just that, once again, that belief doesn’t seem to be quite as strong as everyone thought it would be. Its last round of private funding reportedly valued the business at $76 billion, and talk circled late last year of Uber potentially debuting at a $120 billion valuation.

Zoom Video Communications

Few companies have had a better 2019 than Zoom Video Communications, which makes workplace communication tech. The buzz began even before the company’s April listing, as it raised its initial expected IPO range once and then ultimately priced it even higher, at $36 per share. Now investors who got in at that price look like geniuses. Zoom’s stock skyrocketed in its first day of trading, closing at $62 per share, and a volatile ascent has continued in the weeks since. It was trading above $90 per share at one point in May and closed Thursday at $80.42.

That equates to a market cap just shy of $21 billion, up from a reported initial market cap of $9.2 billion after its listing. That, in turn, had been a huge increase from the even $1 billion valuation Zoom attained in its final round of VC funding, a $115 million Series D closed in 2017. For backers like Sequoia, which retained a post-IPO stake of 11.4%, it’s been a very profitable stretch.


Lyft got the year’s unicorn IPO procession underway when it hit the market at the end of 1Q, pricing its offering at $72 per share to establish an initial market cap of $20.6 billion. That marked a significant step-up from the ridehailing company’s last round of VC backing, a $600 million investment that came with a $15.1 billion valuation in June 2018.

Lyft’s first two months as a publicly traded business, though, haven’t been particularly kind. And that might be a kind way of putting it. In early April, a steady slump began, with Lyft’s stock price dipping first below $70 per share, then below $60, then below $50, closing at a nadir of $48.15 on May 13. A recovery has since occurred, and Lyft closed Thursday at $54.83. But that’s a decline of nearly 25% from its IPO price, resulting in a market cap of about $15.9 billion.


Being publicly traded hasn’t brought much volatility to Pinterest. The company’s stock closed Thursday trading at $25.51 per share, compared to a $24.40 closing price back on April 18, its first day trading. That represented a first-day bump after the social sharing company had priced its offering at $19 per share. Pinterest now has a market cap of about $13.8 billion, compared to a $12.3 billion figure that came with its latest round of VC funding.

There’s perhaps some irony in the fact that the company in this cohort that’s the most difficult to describe has experienced some of the steadiest performance on the public market.

Beyond Meat

Remember when we said few companies have had a better 2019 than Zoom? Well, Beyond Meat is probably one of those few. The company’s early May IPO caused a minor sensation, as stock in the plant-based protein startup shot up from an IPO price of $25 per share to more than $70 during its first day trading. The stock has had its ups and downs since, but certainly more ups: It closed Thursday at $98.59 after topping $100 during intraday trading.

Just like Zoom, there was some forewarning that demand for shares in Beyond Meat was high: The company originally planned to price at between $19 and $21 per share before later revising that range and ultimately pricing at the new high end. Its market cap of some $5.7 billion at Thursday’s close is an increase of more than 4x from the $1.35 billion VC-backed valuation Beyond Meat achieved just seven months ago. Among those profiting from the rise is Kleiner Perkins, which held a post-IPO stake of about 13%.


PagerDuty hasn’t been discussed as much as the other names on this list, but the developer of business software is another big winner of the year’s IPO push. Valued at $1.3 billion with a Series D round last September, it went public in April at an initial price of $24 per share—once again well above what the company first expected. A first-day spike sent PagerDuty’s stock up to $38.25, and it hasn’t slowed down since, topping $50 per share in mid-May and closing Thursday at $51.81.

That means a market cap of $3.8 billion, a step-up of nearly 3x from that final private valuation. The biggest names—Uber and Lyft—have been met with lukewarm reception from public investors, but Wall Street has so far been bullish on the rest of the VC-backed unicorns that have conducted IPOs in 2019.

Featured image via DNY59/E+/Getty Images

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    Written by Kevin Dowd

    Kevin Dowd wrote The Weekend Pitch newsletter for PitchBook, covering startups, buyouts and the rest of the private market.

    A native of the Pacific Northwest, he’s an alumnus of the University of Washington with a degree in creative writing and journalism. He enjoys books and basketball and, most especially, books about basketball. He feels uncomfortable writing about himself in the third person.

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