Mar 1, 2019 - Technology

Lyft files for its IPO

Photo: Lyft

Ride-hailing company Lyft has filed to go public on the Nasdaq under the symbol "LYFT," according to an anticipated SEC filing.

Why it matters: Lyft is part of a cohort of large private Silicon Valley tech companies that have taken years to go public — and it's beaten rival Uber to the IPO punch.

By the numbers:

  • In 2018, Lyft says it had $8.1 billion in bookings, $2.2 billion in revenue, and more than 1 billion total rides. It had 30.7 million riders and 1.9 million drivers.
  • As expected, Lyft says it's not profitable. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Lyft's revenue was $343.3 million, $1.1 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, but it had net losses of $682.8 million, $688.3 million and $911.3 million in each of those respective years.
  • As of Q4 2018, Lyft had 18.6 active riders.
  • Over two years—between Q4 2016 and Q4 2018—Lyft roughly doubled its revenue per rider, from $18.53 to $36.04, meaning that it's been able to get riders to take more rides while spending less on promotions, among other factors.
  • Its "revenue as percentage of bookings" (or what portion of Lyft rides Lyft gets to keep) has also grown over time, hitting 28.7% in Q4 2018.


  • Though Lyft founders John Zimmer and Logan Green each own a small portion of the company (3.09% and 4.13%, respectively as of Feb. 7), they will likely gain a greater share of voting rights thanks to a new class of shares that will give them 20 votes for each share. It's currently unclear if they'll have majority control or not.
  • In March 2018, Zimmer, Green and other stockholders sold $58.7 million worth of stock via a tender offer at $38.50 per share.

Autonomous driving:

In the next five years, our goal is to deploy an autonomous vehicle network that is capable of delivering a portion of rides on the Lyft platform. Within 10 years, our goal is to have deployed a low-cost, scaled autonomous vehicle network that is capable of delivering a majority of the rides on the Lyft platform. And, within 15 years, we aim to deploy autonomous vehicles that are purpose-built for a broad range of ridesharing and transportation scenarios, including short- and long-haul travel, shared commute and other transportation services.
— Lyft, per its IPO filing
  • Lyft says it has "facilitated over 35,000 rides in Aptiv autonomous vehicles with a safety driver since January 2018."
  • From 2017 to 2018, Lyft's research and development spend went up 120% to $300 million largely because of its push into autonomous driving technology.

Bikes, scooters, miscellaneous:

  • Lyft confirms that it paid just over $250 million in cash to acquire Motivate, a bike-sharing company that operates bike rentals in a number of cities.
  • As of Dec. 31, Lyft had $23.3 million worth of scooters not deployed yet.
  • Last year, the company expanded its car rental program for drivers, which generated $54.8 million in revenue for the year. The company says it was not material in the prior years.
  • Lyft plans to spend $300 million on Amazon Web Services between 2019 and 2021.

Editor's note: The story has been updated with additional information from Lyft's IPO filing, and has been corrected to show the founders' stakes as of Feb. 7 (not less than 1% as the latest document shows, which is a placeholder amount).

Go deeper