Lyft's IPO oversubscribed on road show's second day: sources

By Joshua Franklin
FILE PHOTO: A car with a Lyft logo in its window drives down a street as the company prepares for its upcoming IPO in New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

By Joshua Franklin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lyft Inc's initial public offering (IPO) is oversubscribed based on commitments made so far by investors, making it more likely that the ride-hailing startup will fetch or even exceed the $23 billion valuation it is seeking, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The development indicates that many investors are willing to overlook uncertainty over Lyft's path to profitability and its strategy for autonomous driving, for fear of missing out on the biggest and most high-profile technology IPO since Snap Inc in 2017.

Lyft started its IPO road show on Monday and has spent the last two days meeting with investors in New York, the sources said. It has set an indicative IPO price range of $62 to $68 per share and is set to price the IPO on March 28.

The exact level of oversubscription could not be learned. The sources cautioned that the IPO price is still uncertain and asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Lyft declined to comment.

Lyft's progress in its IPO could bode well for larger rival Uber Technologies Inc, which is planning to kick off its IPO in April, Reuters has reported. It has been valued by investment bankers at as much as $120 billion.

Lyft said on Monday it aims to raise up to $2 billion in its IPO at a fully diluted valuation of as much as $23 billion, which includes restricted stock.

There will be more meetings in Boston and New York this week between investors and co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, as well as Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberts and Catherine Buan, vice president of investor relations.

Lyft is pitching investors on the simplicity of its business, while Uber is expected to play up its more diversified strategy, according to the sources. Both Lyft and Uber have yet to turn a profit, with Lyft reporting a loss of $911 million in 2018, wider than its $688 million loss in 2017.

In meetings with investors this week at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, Lyft executives said the company would be profitable much sooner were it not for investments in areas such as its scooter business, the sources said. Lyft executives also said they expect the costs of processing transactions to come down, the sources added.

The executives also told investors they ultimately want to oversee a fleet of tens of millions of autonomous vehicles, according to the sources.

Unlike Uber, which has developed its own self-driving division, Lyft has chosen to strike partnerships to expand in the sector, including with car parts suppliers Magna International Inc and Aptiv Plc. General Motors Co is an investor in Lyft.

"We question Lyft's competitiveness when it comes to scaling its own autonomous driving system, but believe Lyft's 'platform' play for other autonomous driving players can help afford Lyft some time to either perfect or scale its own technology or secure a long-term partner," D.A. Davidson & Co analysts wrote in a note on Tuesday.

The IPOs of Lyft and Uber represent a watershed for Silicon Valley's technology unicorns, which for years have snubbed the stock market in favor of raising capital privately, with investors happy to back their frothy valuations.

The market rally of the last few years, however, coupled with the desire of some of the startups' insiders to cash out, is leading many technology firms, including Airbnb Inc, Slack Technologies Inc and Stripe Inc, to plan market debuts.

Rob Lutts, chief investment officer of Cabot Wealth Management in Salem, Massachusetts, said the transition to autonomous vehicles would be "hugely disruptive" for both Lyft and Uber, and found Lyft's IPO documents did not offer much detail on its plans.

"I'm not sure they've figured out what they're going to do. It's early days for all of that," Lutts said.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston, and Greg Roumeliotis and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas and Matthew Lewis)