A Tale Of Two IPOs: What DoorDash And Airbnb Say About The Markets

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The famous opening line from Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities would seem an equally apropos descriptor of the 2020 U.S. equity markets as it did the socio-economic life of 19th Century London and Paris.

More broadly, of course, when the history of 2020 is written (maybe in Mandarin?), there won’t be much good to say about this nightmarish calendar year. It’s been bad for just about everyone— even the perennially lucky President saw his luck run out (unfairly or fairly depending on one’s degree of dementia).

But insofar as the investor is concerned, it has been a volatile but overall successful year, with indexes trading higher than they were pre-pandemic. (Of course, if you just stopped playing the market in March—actively or passively—then you were injured). The year 2020 has produced winners and losers on an epic scale— “the best of times, the worst of times indeed.

But when it comes to tech stocks and tech IPOs, that Dickensian phrase is unbefitting. A more apt one would be: “It was the best of times, it was the best of times.”

Because, really, in what universe could both DoorDash and Airbnb have such insanely successful IPOs if both sets of investors use the same Gregorian calendar? How could the imminent availability of a vaccine help raise (or not lower) the stock price of a company that benefitted from the pandemic, while also help lift a company nearly brought to its knees from the same virus?

Let’s start with Airbnb Inc  ABNB 3.77%.

First, Airbnb is maybe the greatest entrepreneur stories of the 21st century. CEO Brian Chesky, whose jaw dropped as low as Airbnb’s March bookings when a Bloomberg reporter informed him of the $145 share price pre-opening price—more than double the initial $68 per share price— is a smart, but relatable guy.

Hailing from the Rhode Island School of Design, Chesky did not come off the standard Stanford University tech billionaire assembly line. He is just a bright guy who had a brilliant idea—which makes his billionaire status both more annoying and more inspiring. Chesky, along with a couple friends, launched a little site after having trouble themselves finding an affordable hotel room in San Francisco. The site, and Chesky, would alter the hospitality sector worldwide forever. What is even impressive, however, is how (with help from a brilliant board) Chesky has navigated this most difficult year as CEO.

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