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Lyft Document Shows Business Is Booming Amid Daunting Uber Challenge

When is an employee not an employee?When is an employee not an employee?
When is an employee not an employee?Courtesy of Lyft

Ride-hailing company Lyft is still No. 2 in the U.S., but it’s working hard to catch up to rival Uber.

The San Francisco startup’s business increased sharply in July, according to a monthly investor update obtained by tech news site Recode. In July, it completed 13.9 million rides, or 12% more than it did in June, according to the report.

Additionally, Lyft said that it was on track to collect $2 billion in fares (excluding tips and tolls) on an annualized basis, a fuzzy calculation popular with tech companies that takes one month’s result—July, in this case— and extrapolates it over 12 months. By that math, Lyft’s revenue for the year would be $400 million to $500 million based on its 20% to 25% cut from fares.

But the most interesting—and arguably important—figures relate to its unsubsidized rides.

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Lyft saw a 14% increase from June in trips not paid for using coupons or credits, two popular incentives it uses to attract customers or to compensate them for negative experiences. In all, 11.4 million of its total 13.9 million trips were unsubsidized.

That means 81% of all trips were fully paid for by customers.

While it’s unclear how this compares to previous months, we do know that from April to May, Lyft saw only a 5% increase in fully paid rides, according to a similar document recently leaked.

Remember, much of the ride-hailing competition has been a war of attrition waged through artificially low prices and subsidies such as paying drivers a guaranteed hourly rate if they fulfill certain criteria. The companies also spent considerably when they first debuted their respective carpooling services in which passengers share rides with strangers who are headed in a similar direction. Again, to entice customers to choose carpooling over individual rides, both Uber and Lyft offered cheap rides as loss leaders until they could increase demand.

The rest of the leaked document also paints a positive picture for Lyft’s business: three million monthly active passengers (up from two million in February), and GAAP revenue for 2015 that grew 6.3 times year over year. Lyft defines GAAP revenue as including the money it pays out to its drivers, according to a recent report from Bloomberg.

With that said, Lyft is still behind Uber, which celebrated its two billionth ride last month. Lyft, which is also reportedly losing $50 million a month, posted a $360 million operating loss for 2015, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

According to a similar recently leaked document, Lyft didn’t expect growth in June, which makes its July bump appear more impressive.

Though Lyft is pushing hard against Uber, including by striking partnerships with fellow ride-hailing companies Didi Chuxing, Grab, and Ola, and taking on a major partner like General Motors, it may be looking for the exit sign.

In June, Lyft reportedly hired Qatalyst Partners, a boutique investment firm, to help it raise funding or find a buyer, according to a Journal report that cited anonymous sources. If in fact for sale, Lyft would be particularly incentivized to get its business and finances into shape to be a more attractive target.

And with Uber finally free of its massive distraction in China now that it has sold its local business there to Didi Chuxing, the competition is likely to heat up even more.

“The company continues to hit new records, and we continue to hear from both passengers and drivers that they choose Lyft because of the hard work our team puts into creating the best experience,” a Lyft spokeswoman told Fortune in a statement.