Wish releases S-1 for IPO

E-commerce marketplace Wish filed its IPO prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, joining a number of technology companies that have looked to debut before the end of the year.

Wish’s parent company, ContextLogic, plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the symbol WISH. The filing provides the first look into Wish’s financials after the company confidentially filed to go public in August.

Wish, founded in 2010, is an online marketplace that features a variety of discounted goods, ranging from cheap home wares and apparel to electronics and toys. Compared to Amazon, Wish is targeted to shoppers of “every socio-economic status” who might not be able to afford $119 a year for Prime.

“We built Wish to serve these consumers who favor affordability over brand and convenience, and are being underserved by traditional ecommerce platform,” the filing says.

In general, the company is showing moderate growth without skyrocketing losses. Wish reported $1.75 billion in revenue for the nine months ended Sept. 30. That’s up from $1.33 billion during the same period last year, a growth rate of 32%. However, revenue grew only 10% between 2018 and 2019.

Wish is showing slower growth, from a much smaller base, than retail and e-commerce giants like Amazon, Target and Walmart. In the third quarter, Amazon reported first-party sales growth of 38% year over year to $48.4 billion, while sales from third-party merchants rose 55% to $20.4 billion. Target and Walmart, which have both gotten a major lift from pandemic-fueled online shopping, saw their third-quarter digital sales skyrocket 155% and 79%, respectively, from a year ago.

While growth has been fairly lackluster for a start-up, its bottom line has been fairly stable — it lost $247 million in 2017, $208 million in 2018, and $136 million last year. In the first nine months of 2020, it lost $176 million.

Wish said it now counts more than 100 million monthly active users in over 100 countries, up from its previously reported total of 70 million monthly active users. More than 500,000 merchants are signed up to sell on the platform and it has grown its catalog to 150 million items, Wish said in the filing. Most of its merchants are based in China, but it added more sellers from the U.S. to its platform in 2019.

Wish is going public at a time when e-commerce has gotten a shot in the arm from the coronavirus pandemic. Like many retailers, Wish said it experienced longer delivery times, supply chain disruptions and the loss of some merchants on its platform at the height of the pandemic. However, it said it also benefited from greater mobile usage and less competition from brick-and-mortar retail due to lockdowns.

Airbnb, DoorDash, Roblox and online lender Affirm have also filed to go public in the past week, taking advantage of a post-election rally in U.S. stocks and investor demand for high-growth tech names. The companies are trying to hit the market in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, people familiar with their plans told CNBC last week.

— CNBC’s Ari Levy contributed to this report.

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