It is a very rare exit.
It is a very rare exit. At a $63bn market capitalisation at flotation, South Korea-based e-commerce company Coupang has delivered a paper $20bn-plus in profits for SoftBank’s Vision Fund and its partner, Lydia Jett – a GCV Rising Star award winner last year.
Coupang’s initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange in a $4.55bn offering on Friday was the year’s biggest so far and the second-largest by a foreign company since China-based peer Alibaba’s back in 2014.
Its roots, however, perhaps lie more as a combination of Chinese superapps, such as Alibaba and Tencent’s, or a combination of US peers.
Similar to US-listed social media network Facebook, Bom Suk Kim founded Coupang after dropping out of Harvard in 2010. A decade on and Coupang’s revenue last year was $12bn, nearly double (up 91%) from 2019’s, and a narrowing loss of $475m for 2020.
This sort of growth is attractive to investors and the public market gave Coupang a first-day pop of 41% to $49.25 per share (more than $80bn by market cap), up from a listing price of $35 each.
For SoftBank, this adds more lustre and lucre to its shareholding (39.4% pre-IPO, 33.1% post, according to Coupang’s regulatory filing).
SoftBank invested $1bn in Coupang in 2015 and added a further $2bn through its Vision Fund in 2018, with Jett having a board seat.
News provider Barron’s said: “It is a monster win – and possibly the biggest exit ever for a deal led by a woman venture investor.”
She added to Barron’s that SoftBank aimed to be a long-term investor in Coupang, as it had been in Alibaba where it remains the company’s largest shareholder after 20 years since its first venture backing.
And she said: “This will transform how Korean companies are funded. This is just the beginning.”