We’ve got a new biofuel IPO to watch this morning — and so far, it isn’t going so well. KiOR, the Pasadena, Texas-based company with technology to turn wood chips and other biomass into a substitute for crude oil, made its decidedly lackluster Nasdaq debut this morning, after pricing its shares at $15 last night to raise $150 million — about a quarter less than the previously revised target price of $19 to $21 per share. So far, the company’s shares are trading flat — a departure from the well-received IPOs of biofuel companies Solazyme and Gevo earlier this year. What’s the difference? For one, KiOR’s approach to the biofuel market is decidedly different, since it’s making a crude oil substitute rather than algae-based oils and other products, as Solazyme does, or biochemical and fuel precursor bioisobutanol, as Gevo does. Those two companies are also targeting production of biochemicals before they start making biofuels, giving them early markets to generate revenues. KiOR is betting the farm on entering the fuel market from the get-go. Also, KiOR has no reported revenues and says it will rely on a $1 billion Department of Energy loan guarantee to scale up its plans for multiple commercial production-scale facilities. Interestingly, KiOR is 70-percent owned by backer Khosla Ventures, which gives the firm effective control over the startup — an unusual arrangement.
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