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Blockbuster trading debut of superapp GoTo defies tech downturn and 2022’s IPO slump

April 11, 2022, 11:25 AM UTC

Shares of Indonesian e-commerce juggernaut GoTo Group surged in their trading debut on Monday in a closely watched initial public offering, countering a global downturn among tech stocks and a broader 2022 IPO slump.

GoTo stock initially rose by over 20% at the market open, before closing at 382 Indonesian rupiahs (roughly $0.03), up 13% for the day. The debut gives GoTo a market cap of $31.6 billion, making it Indonesia’s third most valuable listed company behind Bank Central Asia and Bank Rakyat Indonesia.

The company, formed by the May 2021 merger of delivery startup GoJek and e-commerce website Tokopedia, offers ride-hailing, delivery, financing, and other services in one so-called superapp. Before they merged, GoJek and Tokopedia had attracted investments from backers like Google, Tencent, and SoftBank.

GoTo braved a rocky IPO market to raise $1.1 billion in the world’s fifth-largest share offering this year, according to Reuters. The company’s successful offering and debut may signal investors’ faith in “Indonesia’s promising digital economy outlook in the long term,” Henry Wibowo, head of research for J.P. Morgan Sekuritas Indonesia, told Bloomberg. Research from Bain suggests that Indonesian online spending will more than double over the next five years, from $70 billion in 2021 to $146 billion by 2025.

Like many Southeast Asian tech companies, GoTo has yet to make a profit. According to its IPO prospectus, GoTo recorded a net loss of $530 million in the first seven months of 2021.

GoTo’s blockbuster listing stands out against a broader IPO slump so far in 2022. Companies like Olam Food Ingredients and Dalian Wanda Group’s shopping mall subsidiary have delayed share offerings potentially worth billions amid political and market uncertainty. GoTo admitted that market conditions had constrained its IPO ambitions. The company “would have definitely been able to price [the IPO] higher” if not for the overall downturn in the IPO market, GoTo president Patrick Cao told Nikkei Asia in March. 

Shares in other Southeast Asian tech companies have struggled since they started trading.

Indonesian e-commerce site Bukalapak, which raised $1.3 billion in Indonesia’s largest IPO ever, surged 25% after its debut in August 2021, but shares have since fallen by over two-thirds. 

Singapore-based Grab, which has a superapp model similar to GoTo’s, listed on the Nasdaq through a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC in December, only for shares to sink by over 20% on its first day of trading. Shares are now down by two-thirds since Grab’s backdoor listing.

Meanwhile, shares in Singapore-based technology company Sea have plunged by almost 70% from their peak in October.

GoTo’s more limited aspirations compared with those of its counterparts may have paid off. It sold just 4% of its overall stock in its offering and restricted participation to Indonesian investors. And GoTo may have tapped into Indonesian pride. The company has “a huge local fan base,” Joel Shen, head of Asia technology at global law firm Withers LLP, told Bloomberg last week. “That could help to drum up some enthusiasm from retail investors.”

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