What's going on?
Lyft – the ride-hailing company and arch-nemesis of Uber – confirmed its intent to flag down stock market investors on Thursday as it filed papers for an initial public offering (IPO).
What does this mean?
There’s a bit of a race on to see which rival gets its IPO over the line first. Lyft has its sights set on the first half of 2019 – while Uber is said to be looking at the second half of the year. But while Lyft’s IPO is in pole position, the company’s reported $20-30 billion valuation is set to be eclipsed by the champagne-spraying $120 billion valuation expected for Uber (tweet this).
Lyft may be the first of several monster US tech IPOs in 2019, including Airbnb – and a key test of investors’ appetite for loss-making companies. Investors couldn’t get enough of these just a few months ago (take Spotify, for example), but they tend to be less forgiving when markets are falling…
Why should I care?
For markets: Four wheels good, two wheels better?
Lyft is seemingly focused on being the friendly face of on-demand cabs, in contrast to its scandal-dogged rival. But Uber has eggs in many baskets, including food delivery, logistics, and scooters. Even if it ends up being a winner-takes-all situation in the four-wheel travel market (or, with the gig economy under pressure, winner-takes-none), Uber has several two-wheel options to fall back on.
The bigger picture: A bicycle built for one.
When companies list on a stock exchange they undergo intense scrutiny. Analysts at investment banks will soon pore over Lyft’s financials to make sure there’s nothing shady going on (*cough* Snap *cough*), and its management team will be quizzed on its strategy by potential investors. Only then will investors tell the banks organizing the IPO if they want in and banks set a price range for the new shares – to make sure investors get the price they want, and companies the money they need.