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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Uber vs. Lyft war has never been hotter, and now Lyft has beaten Uber to the S-1 punch, filing its IPO papers on Friday. Expect Uber to follow suit soon.

The big picture: Lyft is much smaller than Uber — it only operates in the U.S. and Canada — but its role in the ride-share ecosystem is hugely important. Lyft has managed to grow its market share to 39%, which makes it ubiquitous enough that riders can easily and regularly compare price quotes between Uber and Lyft to see which one is cheaper.

  • So long as Uber and Lyft continue to fight for market share, consumers will benefit, and each company will prevent the other from being able to collect monopoly rents. Since the two companies provide largely identical services, they will both find it functionally impossible to build significant brand loyalty.
  • Lyft lost more than $900 million in 2018, and it is still very much following the minotaur playbook of buying growth at almost any cost. It enters a public market where large high-growth unprofitable companies are rare, and where even Tesla is now trying to show profits every quarter. Many small investors who were unable to invest in such companies while they were private will be eyeing the Lyft IPO as an opportunity to finally get in on the minotaur game.

The number that matters: 20, which is the number of votes that every B share has. Only the two founders get B shares, and that in turn means those two men will have effective control of the company, even when they own much less than half of the total outstanding stock. The dual-class stock means that Lyft will never enter the S&P 500 and never have stable long-term shareholders in the form of S&P 500 index funds.

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect that Lyft operates in the U.S and Canada (not just in the U.S).

Go deeper

Pelosi announces bid for re-election ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for re-election Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.

Scoop: Qatar emir to visit White House on Monday

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leaves the White House after meeting President Trump in 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss Afghanistan as well as contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Europe's reliance on Russia for 40% of its natural gas is undermining Biden's attempts to coordinate "massive" sanctions to be imposed from both sides of the Atlantic if Russia invades. The White House wants Qatar to help ensure European countries can enforce tough sanctions without risking an energy crisis.

Biden: There won't be "American forces moving into Ukraine"

President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that he does not foresee U.S. troops moving into Ukraine.

Why it matters: Biden's comments come as tensions between Russia and Ukraine persist, and a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears increasingly likely.