Lyft filed the paperwork for an initial public offering (IPO) Friday, leaping ahead of rival Uber as both ride-hailing companies race to go public. The IPO will be an acid test of how investors react to much-touted ride-hailing startups.
Lyft is looking to raise as much as $100 million, and will be listed on the Nasdaq stock ticker as "LYFT," according to CNN. By going public first, Lyft will likely provide a preview of how investors will treat its much larger rival. Uber is expected to be seeking as much as $120 billion in its IPO.
Uber launched its ride-hailing service first and has a much wider reach than Lyft. It is a truly global company, while Lyft only operates in the United States and Canada. But as Uber has dealt with various scandals over the past two years, Lyft has made strides by promoting itself as a friendlier, morally-upright alternative to the larger company.
Lyft has also been quicker to embrace alternative services. Last year it purchased Motivate, the largest bike-sharing operator in the U.S. Uber purchased the much smaller startup Jump in order to get in on bike sharing. Both companies also operate scooter-sharing services. However, ride-hailing remains the core business of both Uber and Lyft.
The fact that Lyft is taking the lead in the race to go public is not too surprising, as the company began the process for an IPO a bit earlier than Uber. Expect Uber to follow shortly with its own IPO filing. Over the past few weeks, both companies have added major discounts to bolster their ridership numbers.
Lyft and Uber are two of the hottest companies to emerge in the past decade, but some questions still remain regarding their long-term viability. The ride-hailing industry as a whole is facing pushback from regulators over issues like driver wages and traffic congestion. Uber's latest financial numbers also indicate that profits might be elusive, despite the fact that ride-hailing services save lots of money by using freelance drivers.