Lyft's IPO filing shows surging revenue, widening losses

Lyft’s losses expanded to almost $1 billion IPO filing shows

Lyft's signature mustache on a car in California

The firm made its initial public offering official on Friday when it filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Why it matters: Lyft submitted their Initial Public Offering application to the Securities and Exchange Committee on Friday, revealing everything but the actual share price. Lyft's United States market share is approaching 40 per cent, up from 35 per cent in early 2018, people with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.

"We have incurred net losses each year since our inception and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability in the future", the company said.

Still, Lyft has improved its contribution margin to 43 percent in 2018 from 38 percent in 2017, a sign the business is getting more efficient.

Lyft's IPO is being led by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group AG and Jefferies Financial Group Inc. The last funding round valued the firm at $15 billion.

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Kochan told CNN Business that it's "clear" that both Uber and Lyft are anxious the drivers will use the IPO filings as "an opportunity raise their voices and ask how will this benefit them".

Startups go public as a way to continue to grow the company, raise additional capital and potentially pursue mergers and acquisitions.

But the onus has mostly been on Lyft to get out first because Uber - estimated to go public at a valuation of as much as US$120 billion - would potentially steamroll its much smaller rival. Other drivers, depending on how many trips they have completed, can get cash rewards from $1,000 or $10,000 (for more than 20,000 rides), and choose to use the bonus to purchase shares through the company's directed share program. More than 1.1 million drivers ferried around 18.6 million "active riders" in the last three months of 2018. But losses mounted, rising to US$911.3 million past year from US$688.3 million in 2017, though they declined as a percentage of revenue. Lyft's bookings surpassed $8 billion previous year, 76 per cent more than in 2017 and more than four times the number from 2016.

Revenues doubled year-over-year to $2.2 billion on a big jump in bookings.

Like Lyft, Uber isn't yet profitable, but it has taken steps to cut costs ahead of its IPO.

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"Two years ago, I definitely viewed Lyft as a second-tier player", said Jay Ritter, a professor of finance at the University of Florida and an IPO expert. Lyft argued that the formula for determining the pay is flawed and unfairly advantages Uber.

Based on the figures in the filing, and assuming steady revenue growth of more than 50 per cent in the next year, institutional investors are likely to value Lyft at $20 billion to $25 billion, he said.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said revenue was up 528 per cent from 2017.

"We're woke", co-founder John Zimmer declared in a widely mocked interview with Time magazine in 2017. Lyft had $517 million in cash and equivalents at the end of past year, about half of what it had at the end of 2017.

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