Shares of the Indian food delivery firm Zomato soared over 80% on its first day of trading, showing investors’ appetite for the country’s tech startup scene. Zomato’s debut was the first listing of a local unicorn, which is expected to set the pace for a wave of debuts in the months to come.
Upon its listing on Friday, Zomato’s shares rose 82.8% after opening at 116 rupees in pre-open trade, a 53% premium to the offer price of 76 rupees for the 93.75bn ($1.3bn) rupees initial public offering (IPO), valuing the company at about $12bn.
China’s Ant Group holds a 16.53% state in the Indian food-delivery company. Its top shareholder is India-based online technology company Info Edge, which holds an 18.55% stake.
The IPO, which took place in Mumbai, was closely watched by numerous other richly valued companies that are expected to go public in the coming months, including Paytm, backed by Berkshire Hathaway, hospitality company Oyo Hotels and ride-hailing firm Ola, both backed by SoftBank.
Zomato’s success set the benchmark for the fast-growing Indian tech startup scene, which had previously relied heavily on foreign venture capital. However, regulatory changes enabling unprofitable companies to list have encouraged several startups, led by Zomato, to look to public markets instead.
According to GlobalData’s thematic research, India has the third-largest technology startup ecosystem globally, behind only the US and China. Citing the Indian IT industry body Nasscom, the report points out that in 2020, the country had 12,500 tech startups, of which 35 were unicorns.
“I’m a firm believer in India, and where our country will be in the future. India is a tough market to operate in, but if you are building to succeed in India, you are already exceptional,” Zomato’s founder and Chief Executive Deepinder Goyal wrote in a public statement.
Zomato’s debut will likely be followed by that of Paytm, a New Delhi-based digital payments company, which is also backed by Jack Ma’s Ant Group. Last month, the company filed a draft prospectus for an IPO in which it aimed to raise $3bn.
Zomato’s success also highlights the boost that food-delivery companies have experienced due to lockdowns all around the globe. The food service industry in India, as in other countries, was one of the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic. As a result, it is expected to post strong growth in food takeaways and home deliveries in the coming years, as online food delivery becomes the norm even in the post-pandemic phase.
Zomato’s stellar debut also stands in contrast with Deliveroo’s IPO fiasco in London earlier this year, when its stocks crashed over 26% in early trading, wiping out nearly $2.8bn of initial market capitalisation.
However, Zomato also faces challenges of its own. For one, it is still lossmaking. For the year ended March 31, Zomato reported a loss of 8.16bn rupees ($110m) — an improvement from the previous year’s 23.86bn ($320m) rupee loss. But, the company’s revenue from operations slipped 23.46% on-year to 19.94bn rupees ($270m), CNBC reported.
Founded in 2008 by Indian Institute of Technology alumni Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah, Zomato has become one of India’s dominant food delivery apps, operating in over 500 cities in India.
Apart from food delivery, Zomato also lets users book tables and aggregates reviews for restaurants. Tech giant Uber sold its India food delivery business to Zomato last year in an all-stock transaction that gave the US company a stake in the startup.