Last year's Bill.com (BILL 2.59%) IPO was a resounding success that has led into a consistent first month of returns for investors. After selling 9.82 million shares starting at $22 and raising roughly $216 million for the company on a $1.6 billion valuation, buy-and-holders now enjoy an additional $16-per-share cushion at the ticker's $38.
The Bill.com process stands in stark contrast to the rocky roads of other 2019 high-profile billion-dollar IPOs. Uber (UBER 0.22%) opened at $45 per share and has lost 30.29% since then. Its rival Lyft (LYFT 0.63%) didn't fare much better, opening at $72 and currently standing at a 40% loss. SmileDirectClub (SDC -16.00%) dropped from $23 to $8.38, a 63.6% loss. WeWork, whose IPO was canceled, had to oust founder Adam Neumann and hasn't made its offering even into 2020. Can't forget Pinterest (PINS -0.36%), either. Pinterest is popular with Joe Average, but it's lost 3.36% since its $19 April IPO price -- in a market with Joe Average blue chips skyrocketing across the board.
What was the difference between Bill.com and these other 2019 unicorns?
No hype; all performance
First, Bill.com was nowhere near as hyped. The winners in the 2019 IPO game -- and they were mostly winners; the overall IPO market more than doubled the S&P's returns over the year -- came in under the mainstream radar. The average retail investor's ears probably didn't prick up on talk of Luckin Coffee, software dev Zoom, or CrowdStrike. Guess what? All winners, if you snapped them up quickly on IPO day. (Keep in mind that many IPOs run up so fast one Day One that the average retail investor has very little chance to get in without some heavy duty-gear and the timing execution of a seasoned pro.)
No pressure to impress
Second, Bill.com's accountants had no need to live up to the commercial hype. As such, their books and trading multiple are both defensible. As popular as Uber is, what sensible person would ever value it at $120 billion? Lyft and Grab hold monopolies in many emerging markets. And if you haven't understood the $47 billion WeWork valuation fiction that SoftBank tried to pull, that's a good case study to learn from before investing in any 2020 IPO.
A clear destiny
Third, Bill.com knows what it is. Its cloud-based platform is simple. It easily integrates into all major accounting platforms and automates rote payment tasks. The product is meant as a standalone bookkeeping consolidation platform for small and medium businesses, and the company hasn't tried to prematurely overstep its boundaries to keep up with its competition. Based on its previous behavior, you probably won't find Bill.com trying to move into other aspects of financial services while leaving its core features behind.
The big boys in the space, PayPal Holdings and Stripe, don't really boast the efficiency, flexibility, or security to specifically serve the business community at Bill.com's level. This leaves Bill.com market share in the clear for at least the next few years, although they could face potential threats from dedicated accounting software providers Xero and Intuit.
What these companies should be most concerned about is that Bill.com seems unfazed by a need to impress anyone as it steps into its new responsibilities as a public institution. Slow, steady, and secure wins the race in financial services, and right now, Bill.com does that better than anybody else in its industry.