Let’s dig into the South Korean e-commerce giant’s financial health

Earlier today, South Korean e-commerce and delivery giant Coupang filed to go public in the United States. As a private company, Coupang has raised billions, including capital from American venture capital firm Sequoia and Japanese telecom giant SoftBank and its Vision Fund.

Coupang’s offering, coming amidst the public debut of a number of well-known technology brands, will be a massive affair. Its first S-1 filing indicates that its IPO will raise capital in the range of $1 billion, far larger than the $100 million placeholder that is more common.

But the company’s scale makes its lofty IPO fundraising goals reasonable. Coupang is huge, with revenues north of $10 billion in 2020 and in improving financial health as it scales. And its revenue growth has accelerated.

Perhaps that explains why the company is reportedly targeting a valuation of $50 billion.

This afternoon, let’s dig into the company’s historical growth, its improving cash flow and its narrowing losses. Coupang’s debut will create a splash when it lands, so we owe it to ourselves to grok its numbers.

And as there are other e-commerce brands with a delivery function waiting in the wings to go public — Instacart comes to mind — how Coupang fares in its IPO matters for a good number of domestic startups and unicorns.

Coupang’s surging scale

The company’s growth across the last half-decade is impressive. Observe its yearly revenue totals from 2016 through 2020:

  • 2016: $1.67 billion.
  • 2017: $2.4 billion (+43.7%).
  • 2018: $4.05 billion (+68.8%).
  • 2019: $6.27 billion (+54.8%).
  • 2020: $11.97 billion (+90.9%).

Sure, some of that 2020 growth is COVID-19 related, but even taking that into account, Coupang’s revenue growth is nothing short of fantastic. And what’s better is that the company has cut its losses in recent years:

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