Wall Street hugs Affirm as it starts life as a public company


And we’re off to the races!

Last night, Affirm priced its IPO above its raised range at $49 per share, a sign that the public markets remain hungry for new listings. Provided that Affirm today trades similarly to how it priced, we could be looking at a 2021 IPO market that resembles last year’s heated results.


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That’s good news for a host of companies looking to follow in the financial technology unicorn’s footsteps.

Poshmark prices tonight and trades tomorrow. And with Qualtrics in the wings along with Coinbase, Roblox set to direct list, and Bumble said to file as well, we’re heading into another busy IPO quarter. Affirm’s first-day trading results will therefore hold extra importance, even if its pricing augurs well for IPOs more generally.

Affirm first targeted $33 to $38 per share before raising its range to $41 to $44 per share. Pricing at $49 is a victory. Briefly, why, and then a thought about what’s next for the IPO market.

Affirm

What does Affirm sell? First, per its S-1 filings, it charges merchants a fee to “convert a sale and power a payment.” That sounds like software revenues, albeit not in the recurring manner of a SaaS company.

Second, Affirm earns from “interest income [from] the simple interest loans that we purchase from our originating bank partners.” And, it offers virtual cards to consumers via its app, allowing it to generate interchange revenues.

We care about all of that as it’s important to realize that Affirm is not a software company in the context that we usually think about them, namely software as a service, or SaaS.

This matters when we consider how the market values Affirm; the more richly Affirm is valued in revenue-multiple terms by its new, $39 per-share IPO price, the more bullish we can presume the IPO market is.

What are Affirm’s gross margins? A great question, and one that is surprisingly hard to answer. If you read its final S-1 filing, you’ll find that all its chatter concerning “contribution profit” has been removed. This is a shame to some degree as contribution profit — and margin — were Affirm’s closest shared cognate to gross margin.


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