10 Biggest IPO Flops in History



eToys.com CEO Toby Lenk shows off his wares.
eToys.com CEO Toby Lenk shows off his wares.
Associated Press/AP Images

Like Pets.com and Wired Ventures, eToys.com was a late-90s juggernaut that suffered from a wicked case of Internet-age hubris. eToys, an online purveyor of -- you guessed it -- toys, dismissed brick-and-mortar competitors like Toys 'R Us as stodgy and slow to adapt to the online marketplace.

The eToys website was loaded with features like in-depth toy reviews, recommendations sorted by age, parenting and baby advice columns and e-mail newsletters. And their TV commercials, featuring Israel "Brother Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole's now-famous rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow," helped solidify the brand.

Unfortunately, eToys.com fell victim to some of the same logistics problems that plagued Webvan and Kozmo. eToys had to build a massive and hugely expensive infrastructure from the ground up to be able to stock and deliver such a wide variety of toys to so many people.

Riding the wave of dot-com IPOs, eToys went public in May 1999 at $20 a share and skyrocketed to $76 a share on its opening day [source: Cotriss]. But it took a huge public relations hit that same Christmas, when a bunch of orders failed to arrive by Christmas morning. In response, it built two more huge warehouses to deal with an expected increase in demand in 2000, which never materialized [source: Cotriss].

Toys 'R Us -- who partnered with Amazon.com in 2000 -- had the last laugh when eToys filed for bankruptcy in 2001.