The ride-hailing company Lyft made its stock market debut on Friday soaring over 20% in the first few minutes of trading as investors snapped up the first in a series of hotly anticipated tech sales.Lyft’s initial public offering raised $2.3bn on Thursday at an issue price of $72 a share, valuing the company at $24bn on a fully diluted basis.
It was the largest US technology IPO since Snap in 2017, boosting hopes for a wave of listings by the most highly valued private companies in Silicon Valley, including Pinterest, Slack, Airbnb, and the biggest so-called unicorn of all, Uber. n the race to IPO, Lyft will beat out its rival Uber, which is currently valued at a jaw-dropping $120bn. In the realm of public opinion, Lyft has often come out on top as well. Investors and bankers say it could be valued at more than $100bn in one of the biggest public offerings in US corporate history.
Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer said the decision to take the company public had been driven by the company’s internal readiness, not Wall Street enthusiasm. “We thought the moment to do it was when we could go public without changing the day-to-day way we ran the company,” Mr Zimmer, Lyft’s president, told the Financial Times in an interview. “It happened to be that this a good moment in the market to do so.”
He said the response was a validation for Lyft’s long-term goal of replacing private cars with a shared and, eventually autonomous, fleet. “Investors were excited to be part of this story because they saw there is a massive shift coming from owned vehicles to transportation as a service,” he said. “We’ve seen this play out in entertainment with Netflix and Spotify. They agree with us that there’s never been a market this large make that shift.”
Investors flocked to Lyft despite its steep losses since it was founded in 2012 as a spin-off of Mr Green and Mr Zimmer’s first venture, a Facebook app for long-distance carpooling. In its marketing roadshow over the past two weeks, the company pitched its rapid growth in revenue and market share, as well as the expansion of the overall ride-hailing market, as a can’t-miss investment opportunity. Lyft and Uber have battled each other in the US from their earliest days, driving up losses.
But Lyft took advantage when Uber was rocked by a series of scandals in 2017, boosting its market share to about 30 per cent today, according to research group Second Measure. It still spends heavily, however, with losses rising 32 per cent to $911m last year as revenue doubled to $2.16bn. Lyft sold 32.5m shares at $72 each, the top end of its targeted range. The offering was “meaningfully oversubscribed”, according to a person familiar with the matter, leading the company to increase both its price range and number of shares on sale. JPMorgan Chase led the listing with Credit Suisse and Jefferies.