Lyft Files for IPO Valuing it as Much as $25 Billion

Photo: Lyft

Lyft, Uber’s rival in ride-hailing, formally notified the American government of its plan to go public today. That means we’re getting to see details on just how much money the company’s making for the first time, and some insights into what it’s up to technologically.

You can see the filing for yourself on the SEC’s site (and if you don’t know how to read what’s known as an “S-1 filing” here you go), but CNBC conveniently condensed Lyft’s 2018 performance if you just curious about how much money the company is making:

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  • Net loss: $911 million, an increase of 32 percent from 2017
  • Revenue: $2.2 billion, double the revenue it saw in 2017
  • Bookings: $8.1 billion across more than 1 billion rides

Valuations for the company have been pitched “ranging from $18 billion to $30 billion,” according to the Los Angeles Times, but that was narrowed “to $20 billion to $25 billion, according a person familiar with the matter.”

Meanwhile Uber was claiming it could be worth $120 billion as recently as October 2018. Both companies have been talking about giving stock options to some drivers in the event of going public.

The NASDAQ stock ticker symbol would be, you guessed it, “LYFT.”

Along with big numbers and corporate aspirations, Lyft’s S-1 filing document also included some lines about the company’s current status on developing transportation technology.

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“Pioneering Autonomous Vehicle Strategy” is a subheading, with the statement saying that:

We are investing in autonomous technology and employ a two-pronged strategy to bring autonomous vehicles to market. Our Open Platform provides market-leading developers of autonomous vehicle technology access to our network to enable their vehicles to fulfill rides on our platform. Simultaneously, we are building our own world-class autonomous vehicle system at our Level 5 Engineering Center, with the goal of ensuring access to affordable and reliable autonomous technology. We believe that the strength of our brand, our trusted relationships with riders and our expertise in operating a ridesharing network at scale, as well as our two-pronged strategy to bring autonomous vehicles to market, will be competitive advantages that will enable us to capture value in the emerging autonomous vehicle ecosystem.

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Emphasis mine, because Lyft is definitely still working on proprietary tech for autonomous driving. That’s good, because it wasn’t looking super hot a year ago. On the other hand, that’s also terrible, since the reason why companies like Uber and Lyft are so laser-focused on autonomous driving is so that they can finally eliminate all those pesky humans that work for them.

Lyft even acknowledges that people could grow to hate autonomous cars in general, precisely as soon as most people realize what Lyft intends to use them for (again, emphasis mine):

In particular, there could be negative public perception surrounding autonomous vehicles, including the overall safety and the potential for injuries or death occurring as a result of accidents involving autonomous vehicles and the potential loss of income to human drivers resulting from widespread market adoption of autonomous vehicles

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Another nugget on Lyft’s autonomy progress so far was a line under “Our Multimodal Platform”:

We have a number of strategic partnerships to offer access to autonomous vehicles. Our Open Platform partnership with Aptiv has enabled the commercial deployment of a fleet of autonomous vehicles on our platform in Las Vegas. We have facilitated over 35,000 rides in Aptiv autonomous vehicles with a safety driver since January 2018.

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We have been hearing about Lyft’s experiments with self-driving cars for a long time, but I do think it’s significant that this stuff is mentioned as a big part of the company’s future in this document.

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Lyft also mentions the development of its “autonomous vehicle technologies” as a risk factor for investors. Or, rather, the fact that the company might not achieve its goals in eliminating the vast majority of its workers, or that one of its self-driving cars could kill someone like Uber’s self-driving car did, is the risk.

There’s a little more detail further down, proving some insight on where Lyft is at with self-driving taxi vehicles now:

New and existing competitors may develop or utilize autonomous vehicle technologies for ridesharing, which are expected to have long-term advantages compared to traditional non-autonomous ridesharing offerings. We partner with several companies to develop autonomous vehicle technology and offerings, including the development of jointly-owned intellectual property, and we continue to devote resources towards developing our own autonomous vehicle technology. Autonomous driving is a new and evolving market, which makes it difficult to predict its acceptance, growth, the magnitude and timing of necessary investments and other trends. Our initiatives may not perform as expected, which would reduce the return on our investments in this area, and our partners may decide to terminate their partnerships with us. If we are unable to efficiently develop our own autonomous vehicle technology or to develop and maintain partnerships with other companies to offer autonomous vehicle technology on our platform, or if we do so at a slower pace or at a higher cost or if our technology is less capable relative to our competitors, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

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Go ahead and read the entire S-1, and let us know if you find anything fun yourself. So far a quick CTRL+F search has revealed 159 uses of the word “scooter,” which is 50 more than use of the word “autonomous.”

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About the author

Andrew P. Collins

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL