Chinese technology companies that trade on U.S. exchanges have been so beaten down that many are trying to go private so they can potentially relist at home. That makes Friday's debut of China Online Education Group all the more unusual.
The Beijing-based company, which provides English online training for people in China, sold 2.4 million American depositary shares at $19 apiece, for a market capitalization of close to $400 million. The stock fell 2 cents on its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
COE is diving into the public market at a time when U.S. companies are steering clear. There hasn't been a domestic venture-backed tech IPO all year, and software developer Twilio's IPO filing last month is among the only indications that activity is on the horizon.
So why take the risk?
"When you're talking about teaching English, being listed on the NYSE actually helps the brand quite a bit," said Hurst Lin, the head of DCM China, COE's largest shareholder. "It's not about raising cash, it's more about raising awareness."