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Rivian pre-order customers made over $240 million in profit on IPO pop


Rivian electric trucks are seen parked near the Nasdaq MarketSite building in Times Square on November 10, 2021 in New York City.

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Rajiv Patel, an environmental consultant in Austin, Texas, put down a $1,000 deposit on a Rivian electric SUV earlier this year. He has no idea when he’ll get his vehicle, called the R1S, but his down payment is paying off in a very different way.

As a pre-order customer, Patel was able to buy into Rivian’s IPO on Tuesday night as part of the company’s directed share program. He purchased the maximum 175 shares for $13,650 at the $78 IPO price. After the stock popped 29% on Wednesday, Patel’s stake is now worth $17,628.

“When I invest in these companies, I’m always a long hold guy,” said Patel, 45, adding that he invested in Tesla not long after its 2010 IPO and also bought shares in Lucid Motors, which went public in July. “I’m definitely not a meme stock guy. With these three, I feel good about the tech.”

The tech is all Patel can currently bet on. Following its Nasdaq debut on Wednesday, Rivian has a market cap of $86 billion, higher than Ford and about equal to General Motors, even though the company is projecting revenue of between zero and $1 million for the third quarter.

Rivian reserved up to 7% of the IPO shares for DSP participants, as the company laid out in its prospectus. Eligible investors fell into two categories: People who reserved either an R1S or an R1T electric truck as of Sept. 30, and company officers, directors and their affiliates. The deposits are refundable.

The program follows similar moves by Airbnb, Uber and Doximity, which set aside shares in their offerings for hosts, drivers and doctors, respectively. What sets Rivian’s DSP apart is that the EV company doesn’t have actual customers yet, despite a backlog of 55,400 pre-orders, as of Oct. 31.

Assuming the DSP allocated all its available shares, participants collectively invested about $835 million into Rivian’s stock. As of Wednesday’s close, those shares are worth a total of close to $1.08 billion, representing a paper gain of around $245 million.

Joshua White, a finance professor at Vanderbilt University, said it’s a great deal for those who can participate because hot IPO stocks almost always enjoy a first-day pop, and retail investors usually get shut out. DSP investors can also sell immediately if they choose because they’re not subject to a post-IPO lock-up period.

“You kind of know going in this is going to be a pretty good sweetheart deal for customers who sign up,” said White, who previously served as an economist for the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Not having a product, it’s a way to extend some goodwill upfront so they can lock in those returns right away.”

Patel received his first email about Rivian’s DSP last month and was told he needed to pre-register by Oct. 25. The program was being run by Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on the IPO.

After the stock priced at $78 late Tuesday, Patel was able to go into his Morgan Stanley account and select how many shares he wanted, up to 175. He selected the max and transferred the money.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Patel said that while he’s a big fan of Tesla, the Rivian R1S will be his first electric vehicle, though he’s not sure when it will arrive. Rivian said it plans to deliver its backlogged vehicles by the end of 2023. In the meantime, the company is developing delivery vehicles for Amazon, which ordered 100,000 to be delivered by 2030, including 10,000 as early as next year.

Patel, who has two kids, is willing to wait for the Rivian SUV.

“Having a family with two young children, an SUV is a lot more functional than the Y or X,” Patel said, referring to Tesla’s vehicles. He also put down a refundable deposit on a Lucid vehicle, “but I think I’m fully committed to Rivian at this point,” Patel said.

As for his investments, he’s mostly focused on clean-tech companies. However, he admitted that he sold some Tesla shares last year, missing out on the 2021 rally.

“I had to buy a house,” Patel said. “But the housing market in Austin is great, so no regrets there.”

Correction: A prior version of this story had an incorrect figure for the number of seats in Tesla’s vehicles. The number has been removed.

WATCH: Rivian debuted on the Nadaq today



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