Ride-hail firm Lyft launches IPO road show in Uber’s shadow

An electric scooter from the ride-sharing company Lyft is shown on a downtown sidewalk in San Diego, California, US, March 15, 2019. (Reuters pic)

SAN FRANCISCO: Lyft on Monday kicked off the investor roadshow for its initial public offering (IPO), seeking to woo money managers before its bigger ride-hailing rival Uber Technologies Inc makes its stock market splash in April.

The two IPOs would represent a watershed for Silicon Valley’s technology unicorns, which for years have snubbed the stock market in favour of raising capital privately, with investors happy to back their frothy valuations.

However, the market rally of the last few years, coupled with the desire of some of these startups’ insiders to cash out, is leading to many technology firms, including Airbnb, Slack Technologies and Stripe, to now plan market debuts.

San Francisco-based Lyft said in a regulatory filing on Monday it aims to raise up to $2 billion in its IPO at a valuation of as much as US$23 billion. Reuters first reported the details on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Uber hopes for a valuation of as much as US$100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed.

In the filing, Lyft said it plans to sell a little more than 30 million class A shares, which have fewer voting rights than class B shares, at between US$62 and US$68 per share. The company is scheduled to debut on Nasdaq on March 29 under the symbol “LYFT.”

Both Uber and Lyft are losing money, but Uber, which promotes itself as a global logistics and transportation company, is much larger and more diverse than Lyft whose core focus remains ride-hailing.

Lyft will pitch investors on the simplicity of its business while Uber is expected to play up its more diversified strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.

Lyft has nearly 40% of the US ride-sharing market, but has warned further growth could come at the expense of more losses for a company already deep in the red.

Lyft’s revenue was US$2.16 billion for 2018, double the previous year and far higher than US$343 million in 2016. Lyft posted a loss of US$911 million in 2018 versus US$688 million in 2017.

Lyft Chief Executive Officer Logan Green and Vice President John Zimmer together will hold 48.8% of voting power after the offering.

J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Jefferies are among the lead bookrunners for the listing.