Lyft Delivers a Few Punches to Rivals in its IPO Filing

In the race to go public this year, Lyft has a head start on rival Uber — at least when it comes to unveiling the details about its planned initial public offering.

And though Lyft is gaining market share and revenue, its losses continue to rise while the growth of its ridership slows—both factors that could impact the ride-hailing company’s future health.

That information was laid out on Friday by Lyft in a public filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of the company’s push toward an IPO. The company had filed confidentially for an IPO in December.

In its latest filing, Lyft said it controlled 39% of the U.S. ride-sharing market in December 2018, up from 22% a year earlier. Meanwhile, its revenue doubled from $1.1 billion in 2017 to $2.2 billion in 2018.

In 2018, the company shuttled 18.6 million riders on 619 million trips.

But Lyft also reported that it had lost $911.3 million in 2018. And while the number of users and rides grew, the pace of that growth over the past two years has steadily slowed.

Lyft’s total number of rides grew 26% between the first two quarters of 2016. Two years later, that growth had slowed to 10% over the same period. Meanwhile, the number of passengers rose 29% between the first two quarters of 2016. During the same time in 2018, that had slowed to 11%.

Even so, Lyft says it has a plan to gain ground against its competitors—the main one being Uber, which has also confidentially filed in December for an IPO. Uber’s paperwork has yet to become public.

First, Lyft says it would benefit from a better reputation than its rivals and greater brand strength—a subtle dig at Uber, which has been plagued by scandals of its own making over several years. For example, Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick was blamed for creating a sexist workplace culture and keeping employees aboard who had been accused of crossing the line. The company has also been slammed for spying on Lyft, deceiving regulators, and obtaining the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in India.

On the other hand, Lyft has cultivated a squeaky-clean image, which it boasted about in its filing. The company wrote that it had an “uplifting” culture that was a “key differentiator” from other ride-hailing companies.

Aside from its core business, Lyft is relying on its bike and scooter rental services for future growth, although it did not release revenue or user numbers for them. The company is also banking on expansion with the help of autonomous vehicles to provide passengers with rides. So far, it has partnered with self-driving car company Aptive to provide more than 35,000 rides in Las Vegas. Lyft is also creating its own autonomous vehicles.

In the filing, Lyft said it hoped to raise $100 million in the IPO, but that was merely a placeholder. The IPO is likely to take place by the end of March.

Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, who founded the company in 2012, chimed in with their own “uplifting” comments in Friday’s filing.

“Focusing on purpose and people isn’t just the right thing to do, it provides a lasting competitive advantage,” a letter from the co-founders read.

Correction: This article incorrectly stated the number of trips in 2018 . Lyft provided 619 million trips in 2018.

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