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UPDATE 2-KKR-backed AppLovin shares fall in Nasdaq debut

(Add CEO quotes, updates shares)

April 15 (Reuters) - Shares of mobile app and gaming company AppLovin Corp fell as much as 16.6% in their Nasdaq debut on Thursday, valuing the KKR & Co Inc-backed business at around $24 billion.

It is a sign that the rampant investor appetite in recent months for new technology stocks, which has led to several large first-day trading gains, may be slowing.

Palo Alto, California-based AppLovin’s shares opened at $70, below its initial public offering price of $80, the mid-point of the company’s target range.

The stock traded as low as 66.69 per share. At 1:24 p.m. eastern time, AppLovin shares were trading at $68.31 apiece, giving the company a market capitalization of $23.9 billion.

Despite the price drop, the IPO represented a big windfall for KKR, which acquired a minority stake in AppLovin in 2018 for $400 million, in a deal that valued the company at $2 billion.

The listing comes as hundreds of private companies are seeking to capitalize on the record boom in U.S. capital markets, having raised well over a $130 billion through IPOs and SPAC listings so far this year, according to data from Dealogic.

AppLovin is the latest player in the mobile gaming industry looking to cash in on the surge in demand for video games from people staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We see this opportunity to invest more in original content, and we felt like the time is right to come to the public markets.” Chief Executive Adam Foroughi told Reuters in an interview.

AppLovin’s portfolio includes more than 200 free-to-play mobile games, such as “Word Connect,” “Slap Kings” and “Bingo Story,” which have drawn in more than 410 million daily active users. AppLovin has been profitable since it was founded in 2012 as a mobile games advertising platform.

Reporting by Echo Wang in Miami; Additional reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni, Ramakrishnan M. and Steve Orlofsky

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