Sizzle/Fizzle

Uber’s IPO Blame Game

Uber

We all like to be rewarded for work and vision, for toil and trouble. For putting up money where, literally, our mouths are.

If only those pesky geopolitics wouldn’t interfere …

We’re being tongue in cheek, but only just a little.

True, the ongoing trade war has had its ripple effects across all manner of commerce, across verticals spanning agriculture and luxury retail. It may (or may not) have caused businesses in the U.S. to hit a bit of a pause button on hiring, as evidenced by last week’s numbers.

The ripple effects, of course, have extended to the stock market, where volatility has reigned.

For Uber, of course, with busted initial public offering (IPO) status, the blame game comes down to trade, and perhaps timing. While analysts may fret about a billion dollars of red ink, and Uber is busy striving to extend its platform model well beyond the confines of transportation, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said the roughly sledding post-IPO can be traced to the trade war.

To recap, the shares were down more than seven percent in the wake of its IPO, and at $42 a share are not faring much better; down now from the offer price in the mid single-digit percentages.

Said the CEO, and as reported by Reuters, “The timing of our IPO was very much aligned with our president’s tariff wars, the same day. So, I think we got caught up a bit in the market swirl, and there’s nothing you can do about that.” And in an aside about the stock price — which is not being watched, but, you know, really, it is — he added that Uber employees “have a six-month lockup, so nobody in the company cares anyway what the stock prices [are] now — it’s a bunch of traders …  It doesn’t really affect us. … We work on building a great enterprise — the market will take care of itself.”

But then again: As has been said before, the stock market is both voting and weighing machine. Investors vote with their dollars as they weigh the business prospects. There is evidence of IPOs coming out of the gate with a huge thumbs up, even companies with losses — Fiverr is a prime example, as the shares surged a staggering 90 percent on Thursday. The company has been taking an Amazon-like approach to matching gig workers with gig work.

Uber, for its part, also is looking toward an extensible platform model that can match services to those served (but the added wrinkle is it also has to pay its drivers). The business model is evolving, and it may well be the case, as noted in this space before, that a trillion dollar platform likes in the works. But in the meantime, the IPO has been fizzle made fizzlier (we’ve invented a word!) by economic saber rattling.

Sizzle

Drones for Dinner: Prepared meals delivered in dense urban environments, by drone. Uber is preparing with the flying machines for Uber Eats. Elsewhere, Zomato is taking to the skies: The company says it has made a successful test of delivery by hybrid drone.

Stocks Jockey: Google, Apple and Amazon have long been jockeying for the position of “world’s most valuable company” as measured by market cap on the U.S. stock exchanges. Amid the jockeying, Amazon is now the world’s most valuable brand, clocking in with a $315 billion valuation.

Square Cash App: Nomura reports that the app has seen significant growth in recent periods, where downloads in May were up by 2.2 million, while Venmo’s were up by 1.7 million.

Fizzle

Huawei: The tech giant Huawei will not launch its new laptop on time due to restrictions put on the purchasing of U.S. parts by the American government. The scuttled launch, according to press reports is the “first real consequence” to the tech company in the wake of the ban.

Brexit Uncertainty: London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that the uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union is hurting the tech sector in the city. He said that government resources are being shifted away from debates over burgeoning technologies such as AI.

Wells Fargo: Not much traction in attracting newcomers to the CEO role of the beleaguered bank. Reports came this past week that two top bankers in the industry — PNC Financial Services Group CEO William Demchak and former U.S. Bancorp Chief Richard Davis — have declined offers to replace former Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan. Sloan stepped down in March.

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