Rivian files for IPO, $80 billion target is 350 times Tesla’s IPO valuation


The electric vehicle maker Rivian has confirmed that it is planning to pursue an initial public offering (IPO) this fall, aiming for a valuation roughly 350 times that of Tesla’s IPO in 2010.

Rivian disclosed Friday that it has submitted its S-1 registration to the U.S. SEC. Bloomberg noted that Rivian would seek roughly an $80 billion valuation, citing sources who asked not to be identified. Rivian noted that the IPO will occur after an SEC review, but Bloomberg noted its sources said the company would like to do a IPO around Thanksgiving (Nov. 25). 

Rivian Amazon electric delivery truck

As such, the IPO will almost surely come after Rivian’s first deliveries of its R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV to individual customers, expected in September. Rivian also builds an electric van for Amazon.

The traditional IPO sets Rivian apart from other EV startups such as Canoo, Nikola, Lordstown Motors, Fisker, and most recently Lucid. All of those other electric vehicle startups have taken the SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) path to an IPO by combining with a company that’s already traded, and sometimes created for that purpose. 

A traditional IPO also sets up Rivian for higher scrutiny, but it could quickly earn a spot as a long-term buy. Rivian has already attracted about $10.5 billion from high profile backers, including Ford and Amazon. The company closed on $2.5 billion funding round in July coordinated with the announcement that in addition to ramping up its Illinois plant, it plans a second factory. Earlier in the year, Rivian was seeking a $50 billion IPO, Bloomberg reported, so the new plan is scaled-up.

Rivian CEO and founder RJ Scaringe

The IPO and valuation potentially make Rivian a formidable rival to Tesla, led by its straightforward, no-drama CEO and founder RJ Scaringe. It could become another strong U.S.-based independent automaker that will keep growing. 

Tesla went the traditional IPO path, too, in 2010, when it had only delivered the Roadster and the Model S was under development. Tesla’s $465 million in DOE loans dwarfed the $226 million raised by its IPO, despite Elon Musk describing Tesla as a “friggin’ technology velociraptor” and the cars to come as “frickin’ badass.” 

Analysts widely anticipated Tesla wouldn’t remain independent, with chances of survival slim. But today that company has a market cap of more than $700 billion. Oh, how times have changed. 

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