BY DOUGLAS MACMILLAN and TELIS DEMOS
Mobile payments startup Square Inc. is seeking a valuation of about $3.9 billion, according to a new securities filing, far less than the $6 billion price tag put on the firm a year ago and a sign that recent sky-high private values are facing increasing market skepticism.
The San Francisco-based company on Friday said it expects to sell 27 million shares at between $11 and $13 each in an initial public offering, much less than what some investors paid for their shares a year ago.
Square’s pricing could serve as a reality check for the more than 120 tech companies with valuations of at least $1 billion, a club that has ballooned this year. Six-year-old Square’s IPO comes as big-name investors pushed valuations into the stratosphere for companies including Airbnb Inc., Dropbox Inc., and Uber Technologies Inc., which could test the public market as soon as next year.
“It’s a chickens-coming-home-to-roost moment,” said Rett Wallace, CEO of Triton Research LLC, which analyzes pre-IPO companies. “It might be harder for future IPOs because of how difficult it is to predict what they’ll be worth.”
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