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Affirm’s stock almost doubles in debut after $1.2-billion IPO

Affirm's chief executive is Max Levchin.
Affirm founder and CEO Max Levchin remains the biggest shareholder after the company’s initial public offering.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

Affirm Holdings Inc.'s stock almost doubled in its public market debut, the latest multibillion-dollar technology company to start trading significantly higher than its initial public offering price.

Shares of the San Francisco company, which provides installment loans to online shoppers, closed up 98% at $97.24 in New York trading after rising as much as 110% earlier Wednesday. The company sold 24.6 million shares at $49 each in Tuesday’s IPO to raise $1.2 billion, pricing the stock above a range that had already been increased.

Affirm closed Wednesday with a market value of more than $23 billion. The company has a fully diluted valuation of almost $30 billion, including options and restricted stock units, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Airbnb Inc. and DoorDash Inc. each soared above their IPO prices when they went public in December, showing the appetite for tech listings — especially among retail investors — and raising questions about how the deals were priced. Airbnb currently trades about 150% higher than its listing at a market value of more than $100 billion, while DoorDash is up about 94%.

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Affirm’s IPO is set to be followed by several other high-profile listings. Poshmark Inc., an online marketplace for secondhand luxury goods and pet supply retailer Petco Animal Supplies Inc. are holding share sales Wednesday. Mobile game developer Playtika Holdings Inc. and auto service and supply company Driven Brands Holdings Inc. are on deck for Thursday.

Founded in 2017 by PayPal Holdings Inc. co-founder Max Levchin, Affirm counts Singapore’s GIC, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Shopify Inc. among its investors. Levchin remains the biggest shareholder after the listing.

Levchin, Affirm’s chairman and chief executive, said the company has just renewed its alliance with its biggest merchant partner, home exercise company Peloton Interactive Inc.

“Peloton has been a great partner to us,” Levchin said. “We’re both good to each other, is one way to put it.”

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Affirm sees itself as possibly expanding through acquisitions, Levchin said.

For the third quarter, Affirm had a net loss of $15 million on revenue of $174 million, compared with a loss of $31 million on revenue of $88 million during the same period in 2019, according to its filing.

Peloton was by far Affirm’s most important merchant partner, accounting for 30% of its total revenue in the third quarter. Its top 10 merchants including Peloton produced about 37% of Affirm’s revenue during the period, creating the risk its business could be adversely affected by the loss of any of those partners, according to the filing.

More than 6,500 merchants use Affirm’s platform, according to its prospectus.

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Lightspeed partner Jeremy Liew, an Affirm board member, said that although the company’s success is bolstered by Peloton’s for the moment, the business reflects its broad merchant base.

“It’s almost like an index with the health of e-commerce,” Liew said. “Over time we’re going to see other companies do well, and they’ll become increasingly important for Affirm because they’re increasingly important for e-commerce.”

The IPO was priced to make it attractive for groups that were going to be long-term investors, Liew said.

Affirm’s offering was led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Allen & Co. Its shares are trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol AFRM.


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