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Paytm CEO Compares His Challenges to Musk’s After IPO Flop

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(Bloomberg) -- The founder and chief executive officer of One 97 Communications Ltd. compared his company to Tesla Inc. -- and by extension drew parallels between his challenges and those of Elon Musk in the past -- after the Indian payments startup suffered a brutal first-day plunge following its initial public offering.

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma held a four-hour town hall to rally employees who had watched the company’s stock plummet 27% on Thursday, according to people who had attended. The 43-year-old encouraged them to look past the initial stumble and to focus on the long-term opportunities for bringing digital payments to the country’s fast-growing internet population. One 97 Communications is the parent company for the Paytm service.

Sharma, who has tweeted about his admiration for Musk and his purchase of a Tesla vehicle, reminded employees that the electric vehicle maker’s stock used to be the among the most-shorted in the world. But the company overcame years of struggle to become one of the most recognized brands globally, he said, as well as the most valuable automaker in the world.

The company’s shares tumbled again on Monday, the first trading day after the three-day holiday weekend. Shares closed another 13% on Monday, leaving them more than 35% below the IPO offering price of 2,150 rupees.

In July 2020, when Tesla overtook Toyota Motor Corp. to become the world’s most valuable automaker, Sharma praised the founder.

”After so many naysayers and people attempting to pull @elonmusk down, he has proven what he is made of!” Sharma said in that tweet, signing off with the Hindi aphorism: “One day, my time too will come.”

Tesla shares actually rose 41% the first day after its IPO in 2010. They later fell to less than $4 each and have since surged to give the company a market value of more than $1 trillion.

(Updates with shares in the fourth paragraph)

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