If you see images of Marc Andreessen running topless down Sand Hill Road and yelling "What bubble, motherf#cker?!?!" feel free to be disturbed, but don't be surprised.
The IPO of Square (NYSE: SQ) is looking like a success, and many want us to believe that a few hours of super-strong trading is all the proof we need that Jack Dorsey is a genius, private tech valuations are realistic, and the "tech bubble" is bullsh!t.
But then an equal amount smart people want us to fall in line with the narrative that, sure, Jack saved the world... but he did it a discount and that will doom us all.
Yesterday was rife with hot takes that basically centered around the narrative "If Square tanks its IPO, the tech bubble will burst and Silicon Valley will burn."
Bloomberg had this to say:
What investors are willing to pay for mobile-payments service Square Inc. in its initial public offering will hinge on how much of a technology premium the company warrants for being a member of the startup “unicorn” club.
Mobile payments processor Square had to sell its stock at a deep discount to complete its initial public offering, a concession signaling that investors are becoming wary of once-hot startups that haven't proven they can make money.
Public stock-market investors have lassoed Square to tame the unicorn, that Silicon Valley species of private companies worth more than $1 billion. Jack Dorsey’s payments firm has priced at $9 a share, below the $11-to-$13-a-share range indicated two weeks ago. The company’s two-timing chief executive, rising competition and substantial losses provided ammunition for old-school mutual fund managers demanding big discounts to lofty private valuations.
and the aforementioned Andreessen:
But the lowered price proposed by Mssr. Dorsey seems to have flipped the script. By pricing his Unicorn stock at a cost lower than a Chipotle burrito, Jack effectively dared the arket to see Square as over-valued. How did that work? Here's Square's performance at around 1:30pm EST:
Not too shabby. Having more than one job has clearly shown Jack the power of managing expectations and then over-delivering. But alas, Square has placed itself in the private tech valuation conversation, so the hot takes are snapping right back on Jack and Co.
CNBC's Bob Pisani:
Square is particularly important as a leading indicator for "unicorns." And the indication is that valuations are too high.Square is being looked on as the playbook for other large companies that are waiting in the wings to go public in 2016. I'm talking Snapchat, Dropbox, Pinterest, Airbnb.
Seen as a barometer for future market activity, Square’s confident unveiling on Thursday will show other so-called “unicorns,” or private technology companies valued at more than $1 billion, that there is life after an IPO. With 20 public debuts before Thursday, 2015 has been a relatively slow year for the tech industry, though Square, Tinder parent company Match Group (NASD: MTCH), and email security firm Mimecast (NASD: MIME) all began trading on the same day.
And Andreessen redux:
To paraphrase the late, great Whitney Houston: Square is every overvalued tech startup, it's all in Jack. Let's check back here next week when Fidelity (NASD: FFIDX) drops significant holdings in a handful of other Unicorns and the bubble looms once again over our fragile psyches.