On April 22, 2019, Luckin Coffee, the darling of new retail boosters, filed their IPO prospectus with the US SEC. Just 18 months old, the coffee delivery and pickup company has forced reigning champion Starbucks to reconsider its China strategy. With big name celebrities and tons of discounts, Luckin has created an online to offline coffee empire spanning over 2,000 stores by 2018 and aiming for an extra 2,500 in 2019.

Bottom line: The company’s gone from zero to hero in a year and a half and is cruising for a big IPO. But it’s bleeding money to buy size. The rise and IPO of Luckin follows a similar pattern of UCAR which listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange only 18 months after its founding. Given the recent behavior of UCAR and Luckin backers, are its managers building a business—or selling the markets a pig in a poke?

A (relatively) brief history:

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...