Pinterest has set an IPO range that values the networking site at as much as $11.3 billion — a lower valuation than it had two years ago and a potential concern to investors.
The company, which allows users to discover images for cooking, fashion and design, expects to sell 75 million shares for $15 to $17 apiece, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The initial public offering, expected next week, could raise as much as $1.2 billion.
The high end of the IPO range, including stock options and restricted stock, values the company at $11.3 billion. That number stood at $12 billion in 2017, after its last private funding round. The decline might worry investors and chill demand for tech stocks as other Silicon Valley companies move closer to their IPOs.
“There is a stigma attached to coming to market with a down round, whether it’s in the private market or the public market, because it undermines confidence,” said Nicole Tanenbaum, chief investment strategist at Chequers Financial Management. “This has certainly changed the landscape and created some concern for the future tech IPOs to come.”
Lyft’s volatility since its March 29 debut has affected the psychology of investors, who see a company struggling to sustain its valuation, Tanenbaum said. A central criticism of many of the “unicorns” — privately held tech companies valued at $1 billion or more — is that their massive valuations do not yet translate into profit. “The biggest concern now is what does the investor appetite look like,” she said. “We are coming back down to earth a little bit from when Lyft IPO’d in March.”
The Lyft and Pinterest scenarios highlight the disconnect between private and public valuations, said Kathleen Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital. In the past, companies typically saw their valuations grow as they transitioned from private financing to the public market. But companies are now staying private longer and have access to larger pools of private capital, she said. In some cases, private valuations fail to justify themselves, as newly public companies see their stock prices and market caps flounder.
Pinterest counts more than 250 million monthly active users and reported annual revenue of more than $755 million in 2018; that is a nearly 60 percent gain from the year before. Though it is still unprofitable, it has reined in net losses: $63 million in 2018 vs. $130 million in 2017.
The company will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PINS.”
Pinterest is among a host of highly anticipated IPOs, testing investors’ appetites as the tech industry faces increasing regulatory scrutiny and as economic experts express fears of a coming downturn. IPOs are expected from Airbnb, WeWork and Palantir, but two of the most closely watched are Uber and Lyft.
Lyft, the first of the two ride-hailing companies to go public, saw its stock surge nearly 25 percent after it debuted on the Nasdaq at $72. But shares plummeted on the second day of trading and are now hovering below the IPO price. With an IPO valuation of $24 billion, much of the company’s worth is tied up in promises to deliver industry-transforming technology. Within five years, Lyft plans to begin offering self-driving trips through its app.
Uber, which also has amassed tremendous wealth on plans to revolutionize how people get around, is expected to go public in the coming months. As with Lyft and other technology companies known for their staggering revenue and user numbers but lack of profitability, Uber’s market debut will come with increasing demands to cut losses.