Lyft trails Uber in popularity, but it just beat its rival to Wall Street

Lyft Aptiv ride experience
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends

Lyft may trail Uber in popularity, but it beat its competitor to one very important milestone: Becoming a publicly traded company. The ridesharing giant began trading on Wall Street on Friday, March 29, with the ticker symbol LYFT, and its $24 billion valuation exceeded investor expectations.

To go public, Lyft had to open its books to the public for the first time. We learned the company generated $2.2 billion in revenue in 2018, a significant increase from the $1.1 billion it produced in 2017, and the $343 million result it posted in 2016. The company claims to have served 30.7 million riders in the United States and Canada in 2017 with its fleet of 1.9 million drivers.

Lyft is still taking significant losses. It generated a net loss of $911 million in 2018. That’s on top of losses of $687 million in 2017 and $683 million in 2016. It will now hope to draw in investor money to the tune of $100 million, with the possibility of increasing that figure depending on investor interest, according to CNN.

In addition to showing its books, Lyft also talked about some of its plans for future growth. Within its S-1 filing document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company revealed its ever-growing interest in autonomous cars. It explained that it’s approaching driverless vehicles with a two-pronged strategy: By opening up its platform to developers of autonomous cars and by working on its own proprietary technology for self-driving vehicles. The company also acknowledged that autonomous vehicles could result in a “loss of income to human drivers.”

Lyft has already started to test its self-driving technology on public roads. In 2018, it announced its autonomous shuttles had completed 5,000 rides in the Las Vegas area. The prototypes are commonly seen driving themselves down The Strip.

Lyft is the first major tech company to file for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2019, but it likely won’t be the last. There are a number of other so-called “unicorns” waiting for the right moment to go public. Airbnb, Pinterest, Palantir, and Slack are all considered likely candidates for IPO status, as is Lyft’s main competitor, Uber, which could go public as early as April 2019 with a valuation that could exceed $120 billion. If Lyft has success, and it’s off to a good start, it seems likely that at least some of these other firms will follow suit and become publicly traded companies.

Updated 3-29-2019: Added information about Lyft going public.

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