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Roblox stock surges more than 60% at start of trading

Roblox Corp. shares surged more than 60% as the tween-centric gaming platform began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Roblox
RBLX,
+56.38%

shares shot above $74, and kept climbing, for a gain of more than 60% right out of the gate as the stock began trading right after 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. The stock’s reference price was $45 a share set by the NYSE late Tuesday. At last check, shares were up 63% at $74 for a market cap of about $39 billion.

Sidestepping the initial public offering route, Roblox decided to go public through a direct listing, which differs from an IPO in that shares are not backed by underwriters.

In a direct listing, current stakeholders convert their ownership into stock based on trading prices in private markets. In its latest filing, Roblox said nearly 199 million Class A shares had been registered for resale, for a total of about 388.2 million available shares. The public debut of Roblox has been anticipated since word of an IPO began circulating in October.

The company pivoted to plans for a direct listing from a planned IPO back in January after getting a fresh venture-capital infusion of $520 million that valued the company at $29.5 billion.

Read: Roblox is going public: 5 things to know about the tween-centric gaming platform

Roblox reported revenue of $923.9 million and a loss of $257.7 million in 2020, compared with revenue of $508.4 million in revenue and a loss of $71 million in 2019, and revenue of $325 million and a loss of $88.1 million in 2018. The company seeks to grow out its business by retaining its pre-teen users as they grow older while appealing to new users already in their teens or young adulthood.

The past 12 months have been kind to companies going public. As of Tuesday’s close, the Renaissance IPO ETF
IPO,
-0.17%

has surged nearly 130%, while the S&P 500 index
SPX,
+0.98%

has risen 41% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+0.45%

has gained 64%.

More and more companies have opted for direct listings to go public, such as Spotify Technology SA
SPOT,
-0.33%
,
Asana Inc.
ASAN,
-0.70%
,
and Palantir Technologies Inc.
PLTR,
+3.24%
.
Grocery-delivery company Instacart is reportedly considering the direct-listing route while Coinbase Global Inc. has already announced its intentions.

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