Rivian’s hotly anticipated public debut is lastly right here, however the electrical automobile firm is just not producing the identical sort of feverish on-line posting as its rival Tesla or different EV startups — and that’s most likely a great factor.
Don’t get me mistaken. The corporate’s IPO, which can web $12 billion on an $80 billion valuation, is proving to be an immensely engaging inventory and is already drawing comparisons to different historic public choices like Fb. However for anybody who will get their funding information from Reddit boards like r/WallStreetBets, the Rivian IPO was extra possible to attract an eye-roll, an off-color comment, or a crude emoji.
“Lmaoooo 80B do they assume we’re fucking silly?” one person wrote final month in response to the information about Rivian’s upcoming IPO. “Bro they have to assume since stonks solely go up, this shit will surpass it with no prob. What a loopy yr.”
Tesla’s standing as a meme inventory has helped propel the Bay Space-based (and shortly to be Austin, Texas-based) firm’s share worth into the stratosphere and make its CEO Elon Musk one of many richest folks on the planet. The share worth has been on an upward trajectory since early 2020 and has proven little indicators of flagging. Even mundane headlines like Tesla’s not-a-deal with rental automotive company Hertz was sufficient to push Musk’s firm previous the $1 trillion mark.
Which isn’t to say being a meme inventory is a secure house to occupy. An errant tweet from Musk final yr in regards to the inventory being overvalued despatched the share worth tumbling and worn out $14 billion of Tesla’s market worth. The Federal Reserve thinks meme shares threaten the soundness of the monetary system, to which retail buyers say that’s sort of the purpose. In the meantime, Tesla has regained the worth it misplaced after Musk’s tweet, after which some. (Musk is within the midst of promoting off 10 p.c of his shares in Tesla.)
On November tenth, the day of Rivian’s massive public debut, Tesla’s inventory was nonetheless the most well-liked ticker on Reddit, in response to Ape Knowledge, which tracks the favored shares on the message board. Rivian is listed because the seventh hottest inventory, beating different meme shares like GameStop and AMC however trailing common ones like DoorDash and Palantir. The subsequent day, Rivian had dropped to ninth place.
“Being a meme inventory, to some extent, is conjuring the darkish arts of the world,” mentioned Reilly Brennan, normal accomplice at enterprise capital agency Vans. “It’s actually arduous to do it persistently over an extended time period.”
Rivian’s future is unwritten, however the firm doesn’t appear to have the mandatory components to make a meme inventory. Its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, is just not particularly energetic on Twitter, doesn’t courtroom controversy for the sake of controversy, and doesn’t seem to aspire to something aside from main an organization that makes actually nice electrical vans, SUVs, and vans. If he has an edgy humorousness, we’ve but to see proof of it.
Rivian has far fewer on-line followers than Tesla by advantage of the truth that its automobiles have but to succeed in clients. (The corporate’s electrical truck, the R1T, is predicted to start deliveries earlier than the top of the yr.) However the firm seems to be cultivating a buyer base of rich outside varieties — not essentially the kind of one who would mission their very own identification onto an EV firm after which reply to any criticism of mentioned firm by shedding their shit on-line.
If meme shares, in essence, signify a center finger to institutional buyers and short-sellers, then Rivian was already going to have a tricky row to hoe. The corporate has but to search out itself within the crosshairs of any main short-seller. And Rivian has a number of brand-name backers, comparable to Amazon (which owns 20 p.c of the corporate) and Ford (which helped manufacture all the firm’s preproduction automobiles). Investing in Rivian would hardly display any insurrection in opposition to the system.
Rivian’s gradual and deliberate method stands in distinction to different corporations that briefly achieved meme inventory standing, solely to observe it slip away. Hydrogen trucking startup Nikola was capable of run up a $30 billion valuation on little quite a lot of buzzy movies and a CEO doing his greatest Musk impression. However after going public, and simply because the startup was about to safe an funding from Common Motors, Nikola’s then CEO Trevor Milton was accused of mendacity to buyers. Milton finally stepped down and, this yr, was arrested and indicted on a number of counts of fraud.
Rivian’s lack of meme-worthy moments makes it an fascinating check case for the general public market’s urge for food for what Brennan calls a “pure play” EV firm — an automaker that’s solely making electrical automobiles. Main automotive corporations like Ford and GM are sometimes left speaking out of each side of their mouth, touting large investments in EV manufacturing and battery manufacturing, whereas additionally persevering with to promote gas-guzzling vans and SUVs that pollute the atmosphere. Different pure EV corporations, like Lucid Motors, went public by merging with a blank-check firm, or SPAC, and all of the dangers that entails. Rivian doesn’t have that very same sort of baggage.
“The corporate has little or no in the way in which of meme forex,” Brennan, who is just not an investor within the firm, mentioned. “They haven’t executed numerous the issues that the remainder of the market has executed, whether or not you’re speaking in regards to the model new EV SPAC [special acquisition] corporations or Tesla. So I simply assume inherently there’s a quiet storm facet of Rivian’s progress over the following few years, which is totally fascinating.”