Biotech, Augmented Reality Startups Test Investment Appetite With IPOs

IPO, biotech, augmented reality, Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, WiMi Hologram Cloud, coronavirus

Two initial public offerings (IPOs) are testing investors’ appetites amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to statements from Zentalis Pharmaceuticals and WiMi Hologram Cloud.

Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, a biotech group based in San Diego, California, raised about $165 million. Augmented reality (AR) startup WiMi Hologram Cloud, based in Beijing, raised $26 million.

Founded in 2014 by Kevin Bunker, Zentalis Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focusing on cancer treatment. It debuted on Friday (April 3) with an opening price of $18 per share and closed at $23.20. The funds will be used to further the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics that target cancer’s fundamental biological pathways of cancers.

Founded in 2015 by Jie Zhao, WiMi Hologram Cloud specializes in augmented reality for the advertising industry. It debuted on Wednesday (April 1) with an opening price of $5.50 and closed out Friday at $5.25. The company is planning to use the IPO proceeds to advance holographic research and development. It will also seek acquisitions and investments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the stock market, causing 20 firms to postpone IPOs, according to Renaissance Capital. Just 24 companies filed IPOs since 2020 began, raising $6.8 billion. Only four companies went public in March. 

“We’re in unprecedented times,” Jeff Thomas, head of western U.S. listing for Nasdaq, told the Financial Times (FT). “The next IPO window will be late June or early July. Everyone who was close to launching is now on hold and they’re taking things week to week.”

Investors will be closely monitoring both IPOs as a way to “gauge the health of new listings” during volatile times, Michael Underhill, chief investment officer for Capital Innovations, told FT.

“Investors are looking for the next growth story — med-tech and pharma offer that.” 

The stock market hasn’t been this shaky since the 2008-09 financial crisis. IPOs stopped as companies and advisers became reluctant to launch a listing amid the market volatility caused by the coronavirus.



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