To close out the week, a short meditation on value, or, more precisely, how assets are valued in today’s markets.
Do you recall the pre-direct-listing hype Coinbase enjoyed? After reporting its estimated first-quarter financial performance, interest in the domestic cryptocurrency trading giant ran red-hot.
When Coinbase set a $250 per-share direct listing reference price, it was broadly viewed as modest, if not downright low. Of course, a reference price is just that — a reference — so it wasn’t too big a deal. But it also wasn’t surprising that Coinbase shares traded as high as $429.54 on their first day, according to Yahoo Finance data.
Coinbase equity hasn’t topped $400 in any following day and is now under the $300 mark, with more declines set to arrive as trading commences. Its reference price looms, and suddenly a price that felt intensely conservative before Coinbase began to trade is starting to look nearly reasonable.
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There have been other notable declines in value among some recently public, more technologically differentiated companies. The Exchange has watched with something akin to polite confusion as the value of Root, a neoinsurance company, fell to a third of its public-market highs after going public, even though it beat growth expectations in its most recent quarterly report.
We could toss UiPath into our trend of wildly meandering value. The company’s initial IPO price range targeted a price as low as $43 per share. Today it’s worth $76.75 per share in pre-market trading.
No one knows what anything is worth, again. This is the feeling I get while watching the markets work to determine how to value assets as diverse as startups crossing the private-public divide to the value of Bitcoin, which was supposed to keep going up. Until it suddenly reversed gear.
Frankly, we’re still dealing with new-enough models — or big-enough guesses about the future baked into business models — that it’s hard to really value the most uncertain (and therefore most exciting) companies, let alone cryptocurrencies. Let’s discuss.