What's going on?
Delivery Hero, the Berlin-based takeaway service, said on Tuesday that it intends to “go public” (i.e. complete an IPO) in the coming months – a potential saving grace for its biggest backer, startup investor Rocket Internet.
What does this mean?
Through an IPO, early investors in a company can see the value of their initial investment increase significantly. One of the chief criticisms leveled against Rocket is that none of its ventures have completed an IPO in almost three years. Without that bump to the value of its companies, Rocket has been forced to report big losses, including a €741 million loss in 2016 (nearly four times bigger than its losses the year before). Its stock has dropped by more than half of its initial value since the company went public. If Delivery Hero completes a successful IPO later this year, then Rocket will have started to make good on this key priority.
Why should I care?
For markets: This is by no means “mission complete” for Rocket.
First, the IPO actually has to happen, which is hardly set in stone – IPOs are cancelled all the time, sometimes just for general market reasons (like a widespread stock selloff). Even if Delivery Hero’s IPO is a success, Rocket will likely need some of its other startups to go public or find other successful “exits” if it wants to start generating profits.
The bigger picture: Rocket’s struggles have shown how difficult it can be to invest in startups.
With Rocket, investors have experienced how difficult it can be to nurture startups from early growth to some sort of exit. The investors that bought into Rocket’s IPO in 2014 have so far been burned by their optimism, although that could now be changing.