Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002: The Lessons We Can Take to 2024

Written By Mike Munno

Posted January 9, 2024

Each year of IPOs offers a mixed bag, but the companies that had their IPO in 2002 were special. Let’s rewind to the year 2002, when the dot-com bubble had recently burst, leaving investors wary but curious. Tech IPOs might have flown and crashed spectacularly, but whispers of opportunity were stirring in other corners of the market. 

This was the year audacious startups and established players took a leap of faith, hoping to capture the attention (and wallets) of investors. Some soared towards the sun, leaving dazzling trails of success. Others sputtered and fell, offering cautionary tales for future ventures. 

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002

Today, we’ll peel back the layers of five companies that had their IPO in 2002 IPO. Each is a fascinating case study in risk, reward, and the unpredictable dance of the market. From budget-friendly flights to online empires and juicy burgers, get ready to witness the stories of companies that dared to debut in the aftermath of the dot-com boom, leaving their mark on the financial landscape, for better or worse. 

So, buckle up, and let’s revisit the year 2002, where fortunes were made and lessons were learned…

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Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002

  • JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU)
  • PayPal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL)
  • Palm Inc. (No Longer Publicly Traded)
  • GameStop (NYSE: GME)
  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB)

These are the companies that had their IPO in 2002 that we will focus on. Their journeys, from 2002 to today, offer lessons for every investor: adapt, innovate, stay true to your core, and sometimes, the quietest sizzle can lead to the sweetest success. 

JetBlue, with its blue-winged promise of affordable skies, soared on a budget-conscious model, proving simplicity could fly. PayPal, digital wallet in hand, conquered the online marketplace, rewriting the rules of e-commerce payments. 

Palm, a pioneer of handhelds, stumbled in the face of the smartphone revolution, a cautionary tale of technological tides turning. GameStop took their chance in the retail market and paid the price. 

And last but not least, Red Robin. Amidst the burger giants, sizzled quietly, proving quality and family-friendly vibes could still win hearts (and stomachs) in a crowded field. Let’s take a deeper look at these companies below and see which soared, which sputtered, and which took us by surprise. 

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002: The Soarers 

JetBlue Airways Corporation(NASDAQ: JBLU)

In 2002, the airline industry resembled a turbulence-stricken Boeing 747. Legacy carriers groaned under heavy overhead, passengers yearned for affordable escape, and the skies seemed choked with frustration. Enter JetBlue, a plucky Airbus A320 with a fresh paint job and a revolutionary idea: budget-friendly flights that didn’t skimp on smiles.

Their secret weapon? Simplicity. No fancy meals, no assigned seating, just comfy leather seats, a friendly crew, and competitive fares that made wings a reality for a wider audience. This “blue-collar Boeing” philosophy resonated. On its IPO day, JetBlue soared 67%. 

As you can see, it was a nice payday for those who took advantage of pre-IPO investing strategies: 

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002 - JBLU Max Chart

JetBlue wasn’t just selling flights, they were selling an experience, and it caught on like wildfire.

Of course, turbulence came. Rising fuel costs, economic downturns, and even a pesky bird strike challenged their smooth flight. As you can see above, JetBlue’s share price cruising altitude has dropped since their IPO in 2002.

I would approach with caution if you’re thinking of boarding JBLU. This isn’t 2002 anymore.


Remember fumbling with checks at your online auction? Enter PayPal in 2002, a digital knight charging into the e-commerce battlefield. Shoppers cheered. Businesses bowed. eBay, that online bazaar, embraced PayPal as its payment champion. Click, buy, done.

But PayPal wasn’t content with guarding one castle. They ventured beyond eBay, conquering online stores with their digital wallet. Groceries, clothes, even plane tickets – all bowed to the click. Innovation fueled their fire. Mobile payments arrived, smartphones turned wallets, and PayPal, ever-adapting, became the king of online transactions. That didn’t last forever, though.

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002 - PYPL Max Chart

Challenges came, yes. Tech giants loomed, regulations tightened, but PayPal, like a nimble warrior, parried and pivoted. They partnered, acquired, evolved, their digital currency rippling through the web.

Today, PayPal reigns supreme, a trusted guardian of billions. PYPL is still licking some wounds after a massive run during the quarantine months/years. But all is not lost for PayPal stock. Their story whispers a lesson: embrace change, conquer convenience, and never stop clicking forward. In the ever-shifting sands of the digital market, PayPal reminds us – sometimes, the simplest click can conquer empires. With the emergence of the AI industry, I’m sure PYPL will figure out a way to integrate the technology and boost share price. That being said, I’ll be watching that play out from the sidelines. As I said before, PYPL is still licking some wounds but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great price. 

Speaking of licking wounds, let’s revisit some companies that had their IPO in 2002 that didn’t have as much success… 

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002: The Sputterers  

Palm (No Longer Publicly Traded)

In 2002, Palm held the future in its tiny palm. Its handhelds, once the techy must-have, fit digital worlds in your pocket – calendars, notes, even games. They were pioneers, paving the way for smartphones we clutch today.

But evolution, like a cruel game of rock-paper-scissors, had other plans. Smartphones, bigger and bolder, stole the spotlight. Palm, clinging to its familiar form, stumbled. The future it birthed had bypassed it. In July 2010, Palm was purchased by Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPE). In 2014, HP sold Palm to a Chinese shelf corporation.

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Their story, whispered in fading screens, offers a sobering lesson: adapt or fade. In the relentless march of technology, even pioneers can trip on their own footprints. It’s a cautionary tale for every innovator: hold onto your vision, yes, but don’t ignore the changing landscape. The future whispers, listen closely, and sometimes, let go to grasp what’s coming. Palm now makes earbuds but is a private company. 

GameStop (NYSE: GME)

Remember GameStop? The video game retailer that rocketed into the spotlight in 2021? Buckle up, investors, because its IPO was a wild ride with valuable lessons still burning bright. GameStop went public in February 2002, riding the wave of the booming video game industry. Shares opened at $19, not bad for a company focused on cartridges and controllers.

The next decade saw GameStop navigating a changing landscape. Online game sales chipped away at brick-and-mortar, sending the stock on a bumpy journey. 

In 2021, the story exploded. Fueled by online communities like Reddit, retail investors swarmed GameStop, driving the price to dizzying heights. Short sellers got squeezed, memes ruled the market, and the world watched in astonishment.

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002 - GME Max Chart

So what can we learn from the GME stock story? While the IPO may have provided investors with lackluster returns, those who stayed loyal were rewarded tenfold. Although their historic run took 20 years, it’s better late than never. 

And it’s also better to be lucky than good. Speaking of lucky investors, let’s take a look at the last of our companies that had their IPO in 2002 for today…

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002: A Pleasant Surprise 

RedRobbin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB)

RedRobbin hit the NASDAQ in 2002 and didn’t initially turn any heads. The offering priced shares at $19 each, and while it fell short of the $23 to $25 range initially hoped for, it still raised a respectable $60.5 million. The stock initially performed well, climbing to over $30 in the months following the IPO. 

However, Red Robin’s fortunes soon took a turn for the worse. The casual dining industry faced increasing competition from fast-casual chains and changing consumer preferences. Red Robin’s reliance on dine-in service made it particularly vulnerable to the economic downturn of 2008.

They were able to recover well from the 2008 economic crisis but in 2015 they reached a peak. It seems as though RRGB has a bout of market food poisoning that it cannot beat. 

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002 - RRGB Max Chart

It was a fun ride for investors while it lasted, though. And who knows, if GME taught us anything, it’s that any stock can come back from the dead. 

Last Words on Companies That Had Their IPO in 2002

2002: a year of cautious optimism after the tech bubble burst. IPOs tiptoed back onto the stage, some with swagger, some with stumbles. JetBlue, with its blue skies and low fares, soared on blue-collar dreams. PayPal, digital wallet in hand innovated and conquered online transactions. Yet, Palm’s handheld hopes stumbled, and GameStop’s long journey tested even the most patient investor. 

Companies That Had Their IPO in 2004

Even Red Robin’s juicy burgers sizzled quietly, proving that sometimes success whispers, not shouts. Companies that had their IPO in 2002 remind us – the market’s a tango, unpredictable, thrilling, and full of lessons for every investor. Just make sure you’re paying attention to what the market is trying to tell you.

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