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Assessing value of a digital company: Uber’s IPO 2019

Olga Kandinskaia (Cyprus International Institute of Management, Nicosia, Cyprus)
Francisco López Lubián (Department of Finance, IE Business School, Madrid, Spain)

Publication date: 2 October 2021

Issue publication date: 12 October 2021


Theoretical basis

Via this case, students are introduced to several alternative methods of valuation, including the valuation based on the “real options” theory. The novelty of the case is the link between valuation and the type of innovation that the company represents. The suggested valuation frameworks, which include both quantitative and qualitative assessments, are applicable not only in the context of an IPO valuation but also in the context of any kind of M&A activity.

Research methodology

This case was prepared mostly via secondary research. All the information about Uber and the industry was collected via publicly available sources. No internal documents of the company were used in the preparation of this case. The primary research consisted of an interview with the protagonist Catherine (whose name is disguised). Other disguised elements in the case include the name of the Value Investor conference organizer (Spyros Spyrou, not his real name), the country of the Value Investor conference (omitted) and the conference venue (Princess hotel, not any actual venue).

Case overview/synopsis

In 2019, Uber, the famous ride-sharing company, made waves in financial markets as the most controversial IPO valuation. With a wide range of proposed values, Uber puzzled investors, once again living up to its fame of a rebel and a disruptor. When Uber finally went public in May 2019, its IPO valuation stood at $82.4bn. The heated discussion in the media continued even after the IPO: “Is Uber worth this amount? Is there an upside potential for the investors who bought shares at the IPO price? What if this is a hype and markets are simply embracing higher valuations?”

Complexity academic level

This case can be used at the undergraduate, graduate (MBA) or executive level in finance-related courses such as Company Valuation or Valuing Innovation, which cover the topic of valuation and specifically the topic of valuing innovative companies.



Disclaimer. This case is intended to be used as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. The case was compiled from published sources.


Kandinskaia, O. and López Lubián, F. (2021), "Assessing value of a digital company: Uber’s IPO 2019", , Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 588-624.



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