Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) was at the forefront of what's been called the gig economy when it burst on the scene in 2009. The ridesharing company transformed an industry by using technology to enable individuals to provide transportation for others using their own vehicles.

The company's growth exploded; by the end of 2019, it was available in 69 countries, providing 7 billion trips per year. In the U.S., it had a 65% share of the ride-hailing market.

Ten years after the company was launched, Uber went public on May 9, 2019. It's been a pretty bumpy ride since then.

A passenger gets into a waiting rideshare car while her driver looks on.

Source: Uber.

A bumpy start

The road signs were there for a slower-than-expected start. Uber's chief, but considerably smaller, rival, Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT), went public on Mar. 28, 2019 at $72 per share and started trading the next day at $87.24 per share. In a little over a month, the stock was down nearly 30% on the day that Uber launched its IPO. Since inception, Lyft is down roughly 45%.

The bad initial performance by Lyft may have caused Uber to lower expectations for its IPO. In the weeks leading up to it, Uber set a price range of $44 to $50 per share, with a targeted valuation of around $80 billion to $90 billion. Before that, the expected target was in the $48 to $55 range, with a $120 billion valuation.

Ultimately, Uber announced an IPO at the low end of the range, with an offering of 180 million shares trading at a price of $45 per share. It began trading at $42 per share on the New York Stock Exchange on May 10.

The IPO raked in $8.1 billion, putting the company's valuation at around $75 billion. It was the biggest IPO of the year on the NYSE and one of the 10 largest ever.

Speeding along in 2020

Uber's been on a wild ride since, peaking above $46 per share on June 28 and plunging to a low around $26 per share on Nov. 14. Since then, it's climbed back up, closing at $38.31 on Feb. 24, 2020. Currently, the stock is down about 7.8% since the IPO.

So, if you had invested $500 in the Uber IPO last May, you would have acquired about 11 shares. Since Uber doesn't offer quarterly dividends, that $500 initial investment would be worth about $461 right now.

But despite the bumpy start, do not give up on Uber. The stock is one of the best performers on the NYSE this year, up more than 28% year to date. There are a lot of reasons why Uber will continue to speed forward.

Investing requires a long-term view, and while it's tempting to bail on an underperforming stock, IPO investors who held on to Uber stock may be glad they did, considering its recent surge. Five years from now, they may be really glad they did.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.