Lyft valued at $34.3b in first ride-hailing IPO

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Lyft Inc on Wednesday raised the price range for its initial public offering, as investors looked past the ride-hailing startup's mounting losses to the company's growing market share against larger rival Uber Technologies Inc.

Muelle said that Uber would also be watching the IPO with great interest, since its own stock debut is likely to mirror that of Lyft's.

When Lyft hits the New York Stock Exchange, it will become the first ride-hailing company to go public.

"The ridesharing industry has become one of the most transformational growth sectors of the United States consumer market over the past five years, with Lyft establishing itself as a clear #2 player behind the worldwide leader Uber", said analysts at Wedbush Securities on Thursday, who initiated coverage of Lyft with a price target of $80 within a year.

It also indicates 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 such a high-profile tech IPO. That would make Lyft's offering the biggest U.S. IPO since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.in 2014. It's the first of several tech IPOs expected this year.

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The price sets Lyft's market value at $24 billion, which will quickly change Friday after the shares start trading on the Nasdaq exchange. Reuters reported the IPO was oversubscribed after just two days.

Ives called Lyft's stock market debut a "watershed" event for the tech sector and ridesharing industry that he saw as "one of the most transformational growth sectors of the USA consumer market over the past five years". Uber, a global logistics and transportation company most recently valued at US$76 billion in the private market, is seeking a valuation as high as US$120 billion, although some analysts have pegged its value closer to US$100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed.

Who gets rich: Rakuten, General Motors, Fidelity, Andreessen Horowitz, CapitalG, Floodgate, Valerie Jarrett, and Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green have the largest stakes.

"Nobody knew they (Lyft) would catch up to this level", said Navin Chaddha, a venture capitalist with Silicon Valley firm Mayfield, which invested in Lyft in 2011. With Uber and Google's autonomous auto project, Waymo, ramping up the pressure, Wedbush noted that an "arms race" will create a number of uncertainties for Lyft.

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