The biggest winners from Lyft’s IPO plan

The Lyft application on a phone. (Bloomberg pic)

LONDON: A Japanese retail billionaire, rather than a Silicon Valley wunderkind, is poised to be the biggest beneficiary of Lyft’s impending initial public offering.

Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani’s e-commerce group Rakuten owns 13.1% of the ride-hailing company’s Class A shares, offering documents show.

That would be worth about US$2 billion if Lyft goes public with a valuation in the middle of its anticipated range of US$20 billion to US$25 billion, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Rakuten, Japan’s largest online retailer, owns an eclectic assortment of side businesses including a professional baseball team and a bus service.

It first invested in Lyft in 2015, acquiring an 11.9% stake for US$300 million.

“We have seen the future and this is it,” Mikitani, now 53, said at the time.

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, a Lyft investor since 2013, is the second-largest owner with a 6.3% holding of the Class A shares.

The stake held by Lyft’s actual wunderkinds, co-founders John Zimmer, 34, a former Lehman Brothers analyst, and Logan Green, 35, is relatively small after multiple dilutive funding rounds.

Green, Lyft’s chief executive officer, and Zimmer, its president, hold shares probably worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

By contrast, Travis Kalanick, who helped launch rival Uber Technologies, owns 7% of that business even after selling almost a third of his stake last year. He and fellow co-founder Garrett Camp are both billionaires, given Uber’s US$72 billion private-market valuations.

Lyft’s filing revealed some startling numbers for the startup. The company lost US$991 million last year even as its revenues surged.