China's upstart Luckin Coffee wowed investors with astonishing growth and an ambitious narrative that it was a successful challenger in the making to Starbucks. And then it all blew up unexpectedly.
In two and a half years, Luckin rose from nothing to become China's biggest coffee chain, with 4,500 shops, outnumbering Starbucks in the world's most populous country. The company debuted on the Nasdaq last May with a $561 million initial public offering only 18 months after its founding. In just six months, Luckin's market value shot up more than twentyfold to nearly $12.5 billion.