Lyft races ahead of Uber to Wall Street listing

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SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Lyft filed documents on Friday (March 1) for its stock offering, racing ahead of ride-sharing rival Uber for a Wall Street listing that sets the stage for series of new venture-backed tech firms to hit public markets.

The filing offered the first glimpse of Lyft's finances and showed the San Francisco firm lost US$911 million (S$1.2 billion) on US$2.2 billion in 2018 revenues.

Lyft's private valuation has been estimated at US$15 billion, considerably smaller than Uber but making it one of the largest startups worth more than US$1 billion, popularly known as "unicorns.

It will trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol LYFT, and according to some reports will seek a valuation of more than US$20 billion.

The company has discussed the possibility of expanding globally but so far has operated only in the US and Canada.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said only that "we may continue to expand our international operations," without any specifics.

"We are laser-focused on revolutionizing transportation and continue to lead the market in innovation," Lyft said in its filing, setting a preliminary target of raising US$100 million, a figure likely to be revised higher.

Lyft added that its future plans are "multimodel," and involve using shared bikes and scooters for shorter rides, while enabling users to see transit option on its mobile application.

ONE BILLION RIDES

The document said Lyft had completed over one billion rides since its inception in 2012 and had bookings last year of US$8.1 billion.

Lyft's mission, according to the statement, revolves around reducing the number of cars on roads, and includes a path toward self-driving vehicles.

"We believe that cities should be built for people, not cars," the company said.

"Mass car ownership strains our cities and reduces the very freedom that cars once provided."

Lyft said it is also investing in autonomous technology and hopes to roll out more self-driving vehicles, calling this "a critical part of the future of transportation."

"We were the first to launch a publicly-available commercial autonomous offering in the United States," the company said.

Both Lyft and Uber have faced criticism for disrupting traditional tax services and for using the model of drivers as independent contractors.

The rideshare firms claim that most drivers prefer the independent and flexible work arrangement, even if it offers fewer benefits and less job security.

For the IPO, Lyft said some shares would be reserved for drivers who have completed at least 10,000 trips using the platform.

The date and pricing of the offering was not announced.