Lyft IPO makes it the ridesharing star, at least for today

Jermaine Castillo
March 30, 2019

Lyft had little trouble getting investors to hop on board its increasingly popular ride-hailing service, as its initial public offering fetched a $72 U.S. per-share price that exceeded even its own expectations.

In a sign of how ride-hailing giant Lyft has changed the way we think of transportation, Lyft executives celebrated the company's stock market debut from the inside of a former vehicle dealership they plan to convert into a center for their company's drivers. On Friday, the company announced that it will be investing $50 million a year, or 1% of profits, in Los Angeles through Lyft City Works, which supports "locally-driven transportation and other initiatives to improve people's lives in every city where we operate".

Lyft's top investors include General Motors, Ben Horowitz for Andreessen Horowitz, Carl Icahn and Jonathan Christodoro of Icahn Enterprises, Sean Aggarwal, Hiroshi Mikitani for Rakuten and Valerie Jarrett.

In its SEC filing, Lyft disclosed that its revenue rose 209% YoY (year over year) to $1.06 million in 2017, and 103% YoY to $2.16 million in 2018.

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Lyft, as of December, had 39 percent market share in the United States, up from 35 percent early previous year.

Lyft has, for years, been seen in the shadow of its larger.

Meanwhile, Lyft parlayed a warm and fuzzy image that it used to cultivate by adorning drivers' cars with a fluffy pink mustache to position its brand as the more socially responsible of the two ride-hailing rivals.

The ride-hailing company's shares began trading at $87.24 apiece, a more than 20 percent jump over what it had been priced at.

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Ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. Drivers from both companies went on strike in Southern California earlier this week to protest changes in how their pay is calculated.

On Wednesday, Lyft filed to increase that range. Indeed, Lyft has acknowledged it may be many more years before it starts making money, especially if its efforts to lower costs by developing a fleet of self-driving cars don't pan out. Investors appear intrigued by what is coming to market, with several prominent start-ups and technology companies in the IPO pipeline.

Lyft has explored expanding its service to Australia and Mexico, sources previously told Reuters.

Although it is common among highly valued tech companies, public market investors still balk at this structure, which gives founders more votes per share and outsized control of the company, long after it is startup-sized.

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