Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian races to huge stock market debut after IPO

(Rivian Photo)

Rivian, the electric vehicle maker with substantial backing from Amazon, is arriving with a roar in its public debut on the Nasdaq exchange today.

Rivian set its IPO price at $78/share on Tuesday, valuing the startup at around $70 billion. But the stock opened at $106.75/share in its first trade and was soon trading at nearly $120/share, increasing its market capitalization to more than $100 billion.

It’s the biggest IPO of the year as Rivian raised nearly $12 billion — more than the $8 billion Uber raised in its 2019 IPO — and the startup’s market capitalization is higher than Ford and General Motors.

The company, trading under the ticker symbol RIVN, has high hopes as it enters a well-established field of legacy automakers with an increased appetite for electric car and truck consumers.

Amazon has been pouring money into Rivian for several years, and recently disclosed a 20% stake in the company. In July, the tech giant was among lead investors, along with Ford, in a $2.5 billion round. Amazon is investing through its Climate Pledge Fund, which is aimed at backing companies that accelerate Amazon’s pledge to be net zero carbon across its businesses by 2040.

(Amazon Photo)

Amazon has been waiting on delivery of some 10,000 custom vans that it said last October it hoped to have on the road as early as 2022. That number is part of 100,000 that Amazon ordered for its fleet and envisions using by 2030.

PitchBook’s senior mobility analyst Asad Hussain said the IPO showcases strong investor excitement about electrification and mobility technology, and that there’s a clear line being drawn between Rivian and Tesla.

“Rivian differentiates from Tesla with its focus on the untapped premium electric truck market and burgeoning fleet business, which enables the company to sit at the convergence of electrification and logistics,” Hussain said.

The New York Times reported that Tesla is on track to sell nearly one million electric vehicles worldwide this year and has a $1 trillion market capitalization, which exceeds the combined value of G.M., Ford, Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, BMW and several other automakers.

Founded in 2009, Irvine, Calif.-based Rivian has raised about $10.5 billion to date.

The company employs about 120 people in the Seattle region and has openings for at least 40 jobs in the area. Rivian is opening a service center in Bellevue, Wash., and had previously been linked to a possible showroom in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. The company declined to discuss where plans stood for that showroom when contacted by GeekWire recently.

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