WeWork IPO ‘debacle’ changed Nikola's startup investment strategy

The truckmaker is going public, despite cautious investing environment

The cautious IPO environment isn’t stopping the startup Nikola Motors from going public.

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Many investors are wary after several high-profile IPOs flopped in 2019. Office-sharing company WeWork was one of the most prominent.

Nikola Motors CEO Trevor Milton said his company is going public “very early” compared to most companies on FOX Business’ “Maria Bartiromo's Wall Street” on Friday despite the currently cautious investing atmosphere.

“When the WeWork debacle happened, most of the very large investors around the world that were piling billions into startups and tech companies said, ‘Look, we had no idea what was going in WeWork, it was very hard for us to see, it was all confidential,’ ” Milton recalled.

Milton said investors are now looking for transparency and some semblance of insurance their money is protected.

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WeWork scuttled its IPO in September 2019, a crisis that left it on the brink of bankruptcy and caused co-founder Adam Neumann to resign. The ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft debuted on the market the same year but have continued to lose money and both have traded well below their IPO prices. The trend seems to be continuing in 2020, with online mattress pioneer Casper Sleep Inc. slashing the price of its initial public offering earlier this year.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UBERUBER TECHNOLOGIES INC.33.35-0.20-0.60%
LYFTLYFT INC.26.77-0.20-0.74%
CSPRCASPER SLEEP INC6.56-0.43-6.15%

The Arizona-based electric truckmaker announced Tuesday it will go public in a merger with publicly traded investment company VectoIQ Acquisition. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The combined company will be valued at more than $3.3 billion.

HYDROGEN-POWERED SEMI-TRUCKS SAVING BUSINESSES MONEY: NIKOLA CEO

“There’s never been a better time in this world to go public for zero-emission vehicles and technology companies,” Milton noted. “Tesla has shown that,” he added, pointing to the Elon Musk-owned company as Nikola’s “closest competitor.”

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
VTIQn.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.
TSLATESLA INC.387.79+7.43+1.95%

Nikola is giving Tesla a run for its money by using hydrogen to fuel its semi-trucks. Milton told FOX Business' Liz Claman in December the trucks are zero-emission, but there are more than environmental benefits to the trucks. He believes hydrogen is a better way to move freight because it weighs less. And the lighter the truck is, the more freight it can haul.

TESLA COMPETITOR NIKOLA CEO: NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO GO PUBLIC FOR ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLE COMPANIES

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla's design studio. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

In addition, Milton said the trucks can be fueled up with hydrogen in just 15 minutes, which he believes gives them the edge over battery trucks as well.

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The Associated Press, and FOX Business' Blair Shiff and Audrey Conklin contributed to this article.