Coupang, an eCommerce startup founded by a Harvard dropout, surges to over $100 billion valuation in IPO debut
In late 2019, we shared the story of how a Harvard dropout created the largest e-commerce company in South Korea. Kim Beom-Seok, also known as Kim Bom, was born in Seoul, South Korea. He migrated to the US with his parent at the age of 7 to pursue the American Dream. You can read more about Kim’s story here.
In 2010, Kim founded Coupang, an e-commerce startup that set out to transform the end-to-end customer experience. Coupang was later backed by the Japanese giant Softbank. As of 2019, Coupang was only valued at $9 billion. Today, Coupang is South Korea’s largest e-commerce company with a valuation of $100 billion.
Fast forward 11 years after the company was founded, Coupang made its public debut on Wall Street on Thursday surging to an over $100 billion valuation. The company raised around $4.6 billion in the biggest U.S. initial public offering (IPO) this year.
Coupang had priced 130 million shares sold in the IPO at $35 per share, higher than the marketing range of $32-$34 per share, giving the Seoul-headquartered e-commerce giant a market value of $60 billion. Coupang’s stock soared 81% to open at $63.50.
Coupang IPO is the biggest in the United States this year, surpassing the $2.15 billion raised by dating app Bumble Inc. It also marks a jump in Coupang’s valuation, which was pegged at $9 billion in a fundraising round in 2018, according to Pitchbook.
Since its inception in 2010, Coupang has risen to prominence after launching its guaranteed same-day or next-day delivery service in the East Asian country. Coupang operates an eCommerce marketplace that sells everything from fresh groceries to toys, as well as a food delivery app Coupang Eats. In November 2018, Coupang received a $2 billion investment from SoftBank.
Other major investors in Coupang include BlackRock and Fidelity. Just last year, Coupang’s annual revenue exceeds US$4 billion. The company’s Rocket Delivery network provides same-day or next-day delivery of more than five million unique items. Coupang claims that 99.6 percent of its orders are delivered within 24 hours. Today, SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund owns 35.1% of Coupang.
“We’re laser-focused on our home market,” Kim said in an interview. “We’re going to invest in 50,000 more jobs and billions of dollars more in not only the infrastructure but the unique end-to-end technology that powers all of those services.”
In 2020, Coupang’s net sales jumped 91% year-on-year to $11 billion. Net losses narrowed to $567.6 million from $770.2 million posted in the prior year. Coupang’s successful share offering comes as the U.S. IPO market is at its strongest in more than two decades and investors are flocking to buy shares in technology companies that have benefited during the COVID-19 pandemic.