Lyft's growth shows that Uber still hasn't locked up the U.S. ridesharing market. The #DeleteUber backlash has certainly contributed to Lyft's gains.
Lyft Inc.’s bookings and ridership surged in the first quarter, suggesting the company benefited from user defections and management turmoil at larger rival Uber Technologies Inc.
Lyft also told investors in fundraising documents obtained by Bloomberg that it was beating internal growth targets, an encouraging sign for the No. 2 U.S. ride-hailing company.
Even so, the startup has a long way to go to meet its goal of profitability by 2018, with first-quarter losses easily topping $100 million.
In April, Lyft said it closed a $600 million round of financing, valuing the company at $7.5 billion. Though it’s been quiet about the timing of an initial public offering, new Lyft investors, like private equity firm KKR & Co. and asset manager Baillie Gifford, generally expect the private companies they back to go public within a few years.
“Lyft had an incredible first quarter as we continued to focus on providing a better and better experience for our drivers and passengers,” a spokesman wrote in an email. “We gained market share and set ridership records across the entire U.S.” He declined to comment further.
The company told prospective investors last month it expected $800 million in first-quarter gross bookings, more than double the same period a year ago, according to the fundraising documents.
Lyft, which only operates in the U.S., has used Uber’s many public missteps this year as an opportunity to try to catch up. After the hashtag #DeleteUber trended on Twitter in January and hundreds of thousands of people uninstalled Uber’s app, Lyft reached 22.8 million monthly rides in February, up 137 percent from the same month a year ago, according to the fundraising documents.
As Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick faced criticism for joining President Donald Trump’s business advisory board, Lyft said it would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Uber and Lyft are in a fierce fight for market share in the U.S. The two privately held companies have spent hundreds of millions on discounts for passengers and bonuses for drivers. Both companies have told investors this year they want to cut costs. Last year, Uber, lost $2.8 billion, while Lyft lost $600 million, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Lyft said it would lose $130 million in the first quarter of 2017, according to the documents, which were prepared before the period ended. That compares with a loss of more than $150 million in the final quarter of 2016, as reported by tech news site The Information.
Lyft is still far behind Uber, based on gross bookings, or the total value of fares drivers collect, excluding tips and tolls. At $800 million in the first quarter, Lyft has an annual run rate of $3.2 billion. Uber booked more than six times that amount in about 75 countries last year.
The documents obtained by Bloomberg didn’t show Lyft’s percentage cut of its gross bookings, or the net revenue resulting from that. As a closely held company, Lyft isn’t required to report its financials publicly.
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.
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Photo Credit: Lyft is growing faster than expected, but isn't profitable yet. Lyft co-founders John Zimmer, left, and Logan Green speaking in 2013. JD Lasica / Flickr
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