What's going on?
Lyft just burst onto the stock market – but ride-hailing giant Uber is in hot pursuit, with an initial public offering (IPO) in May set to steamroller its rival’s as one of the biggest ever.
What does this mean?
Fresh papers from Uber on Thursday set out its plan to raise $10 billion from new investors by selling shares on the stock market, at a price that values the company at $90-100 billion. Uber’s en route to one of the largest-ever IPOs – and almost certainly the biggest stock market listing of 2019 (tweet this).
A $90-100 billion valuation is lower than the $120 billion mooted by investment banks hungry to manage Uber’s IPO last year. But, like Pinterest, Uber may want to keep some “value” on the table for new investors – for fear of backers canceling their ride with the stock early if it turns out to look a bit too expensive (as happened with Lyft and its perhaps over-ambitious IPO valuation).
Why should I care?
For markets: Lyft drops off.
Uber dwarfs Lyft: its $11 billion of revenue in 2018 eclipsed Lyft’s $2 billion. Both are heavily loss-making, but Uber’s losses are magnified by its investments beyond ride-hailing into food, freight, and autonomous vehicles. Its recent acquisition of a Middle Eastern competitor could drive Uber closer to profit, however. Investors comparing Uber and Lyft may have already switched allegiances, selling Lyft’s stock (which fell 11% on Wednesday) to make room in their portfolios for Uber.
The bigger picture: A briefcase to answer.
The “gig economy” has grown enormously in recent years – by 2020, half of US workers will be freelancers. But ongoing disputes around the world over whether their drivers ought to be treated as employees (entitled to sick pay and vacations, for example) could create higher costs for both Uber and Lyft – at the expense of investors waiting for profits that may never arrive…