Square Inc., one of the hottest technology startups in the country, made a lackluster opening during its much-awaited initial public offering on Wednesday.
The mobile payments processing company priced its 27 million shares at $9 each share, below the $11 to $13 price range it had indicated in a regulatory filing earlier this month.
The San Francisco-based startup's market capitalization is set at $2.9 billion, which is only half the $6 billion earned in a fundraising with private investors a year ago.
Square will use the ticker symbol "SQ" when it begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Investors are paying close attention to the flotation of more than 120 startup companies, with a valuation of more than $1 billion, otherwise known as "startup unicorns."
Square's disappointing IPO is an indication of the highly competitive market for debuting technology companies. It highlights the stark contrast between a doubtful public market and the optimistic valuations by private companies.
Financial data analyst Dealogic said that only 14 percent of IPOs this year has been in the technology sector, which is the lowest representation the industry has ever had in the past seven years.
Observers believe Square's IPO was likely influenced by concerns regarding the revenue growth of the company and also Jack Dorsey's dual role as chief executive of both Square and Twitter.
"Unfortunately, the (IPO) timing is not perfect, given the (recent) sell-off of tech stocks and concern over an IPO bubble," Andrew Chanin, chief executive officer of mobile payment exchange-traded fund Purefunds, said.
Square's dreary opening on the public market will make it difficult for the company to convince nervous tech investors, who are still reeling from the rocky performance of cloud storage company Box, to put in their money.
Box debuted at $20.20 in January after being priced at $14 per share during its flotation. It eventually dropped in value, however, and is now being traded at $12 to $13 per share.