Roberts jumps ship... straight into the seaLyft’s long-time CFO, who helped take the company public, is bailing to join the world of blockchain.
- Brian Roberts is leaving to join OpenSea. It's one of the world’s largest NFT marketplaces and has exploded this year to process over $10bn in transaction value and even consider an IPO.
- Elaine Paul will be taking his place, moving over from Amazon Web Services.
- Web3 start ups are taking the market by storm, attracting not just crazy amounts of cash but also some crazy hot talent to lead the internet revolution.
A ride to the topLyft is back, baby! A return of drivers and a rebound in ride hailing saw the app’s shares bounce over 8% on Wednesday.
- Lyft posted a surprise Q3 profit and a revenue increase of 73%
- Investors hit the brakes this summer as the company battled a shortage in drivers, and shares have lost a third of their value since March.
- But drivers are coming back on board, and thank goodness for that: because demand boomed in the third quarter, and no one likes waiting for a ride.
A bumpy road to recovery as Lyft's Q2 results fail to wow investorsDespite releasing a solid earnings report that boasted 125% growth in revenue, soft guidance sends Lyft stock reversing over 10% on Wednesday.
Prices of ride-sharing giant Lyft plummeted to their lowest price since mid-May this week after the firm released its seemingly impressive second quarter report. The numbers themselves looked solid, but investors sent prices down 10.56% as they reacted to the company’s weak guidance. The company easily outpaced both the top and bottom lines, reporting a loss per share of $0.05 on revenue of $765 million, compared to expectations of a $0.24 loss per share on $696.9 million. Active rider numbers came in above expectations too, with 17.14 million active riders in the quarter versus the 15.45 analysts were expecting. Revenue revved up a whopping 125% in Q2, and the company reported its first ever quarterly adjusted EBITDA profit at $23.8 million.
It’s a significant milestone for a business and for our industry. Going forward we expect to maintain adjusted EBITDA profitability,
CEO Logan Green said on the company’s earnings call.
Despite reaching this new milestone and presenting some solid numbers, Lyft’s guidance didn’t live up to expectations and disappointment sent its shares down over 10% on Wednesday. The ride-sharing company expects to bring in between $850 million and $860 million – slightly down from the $869.1 million analysts were looking for. Prices closed Wednesday at $49.53.
A trailblazing trio joins forcesLyft is joining forces with industry leading automaker Ford and its self-driving software partner Argo AI to offer a self-driving ride-hailing service. Its stock popped 5.33% on the news.
Ford (F) and its shiny EV range will team up with its self-driving partner Argo AI to take us into the future and launch Robotaxi service on Lyft’s network. The trailblazing trio will launch at least 1,000 of the Robotaxi’s on Lyft’s network in the next five years, starting with Austin and Miami. Ford (F) and Argo both have a huge fleet of test vehicles in those cities, but in the years to come the plan is to expand into all major U.S. cities from 2023 onwards. To quell any fears about getting into a robot car on the way to your Friday dinner, there will be safety drivers in the cars for at least the next two years.
The collab will be the first time a carmaker, a self-driving software developer and a ride-hailing company have joined forces, and it could be the key to figuring out how to make a commercially viable business from Robotaxi’s. Lyft abandoned its own Robotaxi dreams when it sold its self-driving tech segment to Toyota for $550 million.
Lyft loses ground on Q1 resultsIt’s not a good week for Lyft, which releases knockout Q1 earnings on May 4 but still sees prices fall, possibly due to disappointing rider figures.
Lyft’s Q1 results suggested that the ride-sharing app was back on the path to profitability as it beat all expectations, but investors weren’t so easily pleased and stocks lost over 6% with disappointment over active rider numbers.
Lyft reported a loss per share of $0.35 on revenue of $609 million, compared to expectations of a $0.53 loss per share on $558.7 million in revenue. It’s difficult to make year-on-year increase assessments because of the state of the world this time last year – Lyft revenue is down 36% y-o-y but up 7% from Q4, so signs of pandemic recovery are clear. The ride-sharing app reported a net loss of $427.3 million for the quarter, slightly worse than the $398.1 million loss in the same quarter last year; although its adjusted EBITDA loss was $73 million, which is $62 million better than the company’s most recent outlook.
”The improvements we’ve made over the last year are paying off - we’ve built a much stronger business. As the recovery continues, we are confident that we will be able to deliver strong financial results” said Logan Green, co-founder and chief executive officer of Lyft. “We expect to build a significantly larger company by attacking the trillion dollar plus market opportunity in front of us.”
But its active rider numbers is what has investors hitting the brakes – even though numbers beat expectations at 13.49 million vs 12.8 million expected, that’s a 36.4% drop from the same time a year ago as Lyft continues to feel the effects of the pandemic.
With the pending sale of its Level 5 self-driving division though, Lyft is setting itself up to win the transition to autonomous vehicles through its hybrid network of human drivers and AVs, investment into marketplace tech, and expansion of fleet management capabilities, which could place the firm back into the driving seat in years to come.
For Q2, Lyft expects revenue to come in at between $680 million and $700 million, which would be an increase of nearly 15% quarter-on-quarter with up to 106% growth year over year. After teasing us a few times with its profitability benchmark, it seems to be holding steady on its previous guidance, reinforcing plans to reach profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis by Q3 of this year.
Lyft erases gains in new driver battle developmentThe U.S. Labor Secretary causes a stir by claiming that gig-workers should be classified as employees, continuing Lyft’s long battle with its drivers and sending prices down almost 10% to erase all its March and April gains.
Marty Walsh, formerly Mayor of Boston, came out last week as saying all gig workers, such as ride-sharing app drivers, should be treated as employees – a welcome development for drivers, who have been battling for this recognition for like, ever. Lyft and some its ride-sharing app buddies like Uber have had a long trip along the employee classifying road – a journey that cost the pair almost $200 million between them last year, when a California court ruled that drivers must be treated as employees and given minimum wage and overtime pay. A national (federal level) decision on who does and doesn't classify as an employee could have big implications for the U.S. workforce, up to a third of which are gig workers or contractors.
The benefits alone would cost Lyft a pretty penny, so it's understandable that they’d fight it, but it doesn't look like something that’s going away. Gig workers have been fighting for this for years, complaining about unfair working conditions, lack of health care, and straight up exploitation, and this classification of workers was hit especially hard in the COVID pandemic.
"We are looking at it but in a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees... in some cases they are treated respectfully and in some cases they are not and I think it has to be consistent across the board,"
Walsh told Reuters in an interview, expressing his view on the topic for the first time and giving some early insight into the Biden administration's future stance on the issues.
"These companies are making profits and revenue and I'm not (going to) begrudge anyone for that because that's what we are about in America. But we also want to make sure that success trickles down to the worker.”
Marty Walsh is Biden’s top labor official, and though his words are not yet backed by any official federal action, they have still made waves among tech companies that rely on gig workers. Reforming labor laws is a key pillar of Biden’s platform, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Lyft abandons the robotaxi dreamLyft prices sink on news that it’s selling its self-driving unit to a Toyota subsidiary in a deal worth $550 million.
A subsidiary of Toyota called Woven Planet will buy Lyft’s self-driving car unit, it was announced Monday. The pair will work together to enhance self-driving tech safety, dashing the hopes of fans who’ve been keen for a Lyft robotaxi network in the near future – which would, to be fair, be awesome. Toyota will pay Lyft $200 million upfront and the rest over five years as it integrates the team into the Woven Planet subsidiary.
The move is expected to remove $100 million of annualized non-GAAP operating expenses on a net basis, and Lyft Co-Founder and President John Zimmer said that if the deal closes in Q3 as expected, investors could expect to see profitability on an adjusted basis in Q3.
“Not only will this transaction allow Lyft to focus on advancing our leading Autonomous platform and transportation network, this partnership will help pull in our profitability timeline,”
Zimmer said in a statement.
The announcement comes not long after rival Uber effectively left the self-driving car biz to the professionals after a few serious (and one fatal) setbacks, and sold its autonomous driving unit to Aurora Innovation at a $4 billion valuation. Lyft has been working on its own self-driving tech since 2017, but pressures to become profitable as soon as possible and the difficulties of the COVID pandemic have forced companies to scale back.
One Lyft executive said that this is just the industry becoming more realistic, letting the car makers make cars and the tech companies connect riders. Lyft still believes in an autonomous future, but it will put its efforts into deploying third party tech on its networks instead of making vehicles, and Lyft CEO Logal Green said:
“We look forward to continuing to partner with the best autonomous vehicle companies to bring this technology to market.”
Optimism for Q1Lyft lifts (see what we did there?) on the back of optimistic Q1 expectations, with forecast losses expected to beat analyst estimates as vaccines get underway and consumer confidence returns.
The company confirmed an expected adjusted loss for Q1 of $135 million, better than the $146 million expected by analysts, leading stock to jump 3.7% in after-hours trading.
The last week of February saw its best performance since the start of the pandemic, in terms of ride frequency, and average daily riders for February were up 4% on the previous month, suggesting that the tide might finally be turning.
“With new vaccines on the horizon, we’re seeing the worst of the pandemic in the rearview mirror,” said Lyft spokesman Eric Smith.
Lyft partners with Toyota on zero-emission rentalsLyft Canada teams up with Toyota Canada to offer its Vancouver drivers the chance to rent the world's first mass produced hydrogen-powered zero emissions model, the Mirai, through Toyota's KINTO share program.
KINTO’s origins lie in the word Kinto-un – Japanese for ‘flying nimbus’ – a service that quickly appears and, no matter where you are or what time it is, takes you wherever you wish to go. Nice idea. Toyota launched the program back in 2019 as a new mobility scheme for care sharing, rentals, leasing, pooling, subscriptions, and more. It's part of the firm's plan to transform into a "mobility" company rather than just a car manufacturer.
Lyft drivers in the US (along with Uber, DoorDash, and other gig workers) already use KINTO in several US locations including California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. Now it's moved into Canada, one of the firm's biggest markets. It's a strong boost to its eco credentials, as well as moving it closer to its goal of 100% electric vehicles on its platform by 2030.
It's another bump for the share price as well, which ends the day up 1.02% at $57.65. Lyft has had a great month so far, with the stock up by over a quarter (27%) since the start of February. Onwards and upwards!
Better Q4 results see shares jumpLyft shares bounce 10% on the back of surprisingly strong Q4 2020 results, largely due to its aggressive cost-cutting measures.
The firm reported $569.9 million in Q4 revenue, down 44% year-on-year but still beating analyst expectations of $562.49 million, while losses narrowed to $0.58 per share, beating expectations of $0.72 per share. Net losses for Q4 2020 were $458.2 million, compared to a net loss of $356 million in Q4 2019.
Lyft said that although rides were down 51% year-over-year and active riders were down 45.2%, it was making more money off each ride at an average of $45.40, up 2.3% year-on-year and a 13.7% increase on the previous quarter.
For the full year, it reported 2020 revenue of $2.4 billion versus $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2019, a decrease of 35% year-over-year. Net losses for 2020 stood at $1.8 billion, against a net loss of $2.6 billion in 2019. So some improvement there.
In April 2020, the firm announced a restructuring effort to reduce operating expenses and adjust cash flows, and it's been largely successful. In November 2020, it also reduced its workforce to which resulted in net restructuring costs of $1.4 million, comprised of severance and employee costs, partially offset by a stock-based compensation benefit.
“In the fourth quarter, we successfully eliminated $360 million in fixed costs on an annualized basis versus our original 2020 plan, exceeding our target cost reduction by 20%,” said CFO Brian Roberts. “Our Q4 results also outperformed our most recent outlook. And, while the first quarter of 2021 continues to be uncertain primarily due to COVID-19 headwinds, based on current recovery expectations, we should experience a growth inflection beginning in the second quarter that strengthens in the second half of the year.”
Taxi firms lose Canadian court caseIt's a good day for Lyft and a bad day for traditional cabs. Justice Sandra Wilkinson of the BC Supreme Court decides that the approvals for Lyft and Uber (UBER) to operate in British Columbia should stand – and fleet size isn't limited either.
The taxi firms were pretty pissed about this, because their own fleet sizes are limited, which could create a slightly skewed market in terms of competition. The approvals were issued to the ride-sharing apps by the Passenger Transportation Board a year ago, but the court case had dragged on till now, preventing them from setting up shop. Now though, there's nothing standing in their way.
According to Wilkinson's written ruling of January 20, 2021: "In each of the decisions, the board devotes numerous paragraphs to discussing whether an indeterminate fleet size will promote sound economic conditions in the passenger transportation industry. This is not a deferral of a decision or a failure to consider the issue of fleet size. I would go so far as to say that the board made a very common-sense decision in the circumstances.”
The share price did a little hop up to over $50 on the day of the ruling, but stayed static around $48 for most of the week.
Lyft entry boosts car ownershipRide-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber bump up car ownership by 0.7% in urban areas, says the New Scientist.
The research, from Jeremy Michalek at Carnegie Mellon University, analyzed trends in vehicle ownership in 224 urban areas across the US between 2011 and 2017 to investigate how these were influenced by ride-sharing companies – either Uber or Lyft – entering the area.
“We would have expected ownership to probably go down, because when people gain access to this alternative travel mode they may be able to get away with not owning a car, or owning fewer cars in their household,” said Michalek. But instead, it went up. Cool beans, but why? Possibly, because the drivers themselves end up buying new cars in order to work for the ride-shares. So, employment AND economic benefit. That's a pretty positive result.
Lyft offers free vaccine ridesLyft partners up with JP Morgan, health insurer Anthem, and community non-profit United Way to launch a high-profile new vaccine access campaign to provide 60 million rides to and from vaccination sites for low-income, uninsured, and at-risk people. It's some seriously good PR and it pumps the share price back above $50.
“Making sure people can get to vaccination sites when they need to is mission critical to beating this virus,” said Lyft Co-Founder and President, John Zimmer. “This is an opportunity to use our collective strength to mobilize on a massive scale and serve our communities. We cannot let lack of transportation be a factor in determining whether people have access to healthcare.”
It marks a wider Lyft strategy to further develop its healthcare business, which already has its own division within the company and which has been a key priority since 2016. As of 2020 the firm partners with nine of the top 10 largest health systems and nine of the 10 largest non-emergency medical transportation brokers to provide patient journeys. It has also partnered Epic, one of the most widely used electronic-health-record (EHR) services in the US, through which doctors can arrange transportation for patients directly with Lyft.
Lyft looks to go fully driverless by 2023Lyft partners with driverless technology firm to launch a fully self-driving service across the US by 2023. It's the dream – but is it achievable? The market seems to think so, and the stock is up to $49.91 from $47.23 a week earlier.
Lyft has been working with Motional (a $4bn joint venture between tech firm Aptiv and auto giant Hyundai) since 2018, and by December 2020 had provided more than 100,000 self-driving paid rides to its customers. They seem to have gone down pretty well, with 94% saying they'd do it again. So Lyft and Motional take the next step, with plans to launch fully driverless vehicles across the Lyft network in 2023 in multiple US cities. It's the first deployment partnership between a rideshare company and a driverless technology provider, and it's pretty cool that Lyft snuck in there in front of its rival Uber, which abandoned its own self-driving attempt earlier in the month.
It's a big deal – but it's not good news for Lyft drivers, who already have a bit of a shaky relationship with the firm. Driverless cars would be great for Lyft (and possibly its customers) but they have the potential to put a whole lot of people out of work.
Lower Q4 lossesLyft says that Q4 losses are likely to be lower than expected, at less than $185m, citing improving margins and rigorous cost controls. It also predicts quarterly revenues to increase by up to 15%, and thinks rider numbers will increase by up to a million by the end of the year. Take that, COVID19.
Finally, some great news for Lyft with a forecasted 1m uptick in riders by the end of the year. Photo: Lyft.
Q3 earnings bounceThings are looking up, and Q3 earnings are better than expected. Revenues were around $460m while losses per share were down at $1.46. More promisingly, active riders were up at 12.5m, up 44% on the quarter and almost 4m more than the 8.7m it reported a year ago.
“Lyft’s third quarter results reflect our focused execution and business resilience,” said CEO Logan Green. “We are encouraged by the ongoing recovery in ridesharing and the performance improvements we saw across bikes, scooters and fleet. We remain confident that demand will continue to return as we progress through the recovery.”
The market was optimistic in advance, and shares jumped over 26% the day before the results were released (helped along the way by positive coronavirus vaccine news). On the day though, prices were a little more subdued, losing -4.35% to close at $36.05.
It didn’t slow Lyft down though, and the firm was already looking at how to build further revenues as the economy recovered: including a new service attempting to grab a slice of the food-delivery pie. It had already laid the groundwork in October, partnering with GrubHub to offer unlimited free food delivery for Lyft Pink members.
Prop 22 celebrationsThey only went and did it! In a momentous win for Lyft and Uber (UBER), 58% of Californians vote in favor of Proposition 22 (and against upholding the previous appeals court ruling), meaning that drivers stay self-employed. It’s the end to an epic battle, and the markets are delighted – Lyft stock jumps 7.06% on the news.
Lyft and Uber defeated in court. Again.In the latest plot twist of the epic battle between ride-sharing apps and their drivers, the California appeals court rules that yes, drivers must by law be classified as employees instead of private contractors – a massive blow for Lyft and Uber (UBER).
But hold your horses, ‘cos it ain’t over yet. A little thing called Proposition 22 is on the horizon – a state-wide ballot that allowed California voters to decide whether or not to uphold the changes to state law. If passed, it would keep drivers as self-employed contractors (but offering them with a bunch of sweeteners like minimum compensation and healthcare subsidies.) Heavily backed by Lyft and Uber (UBER), the ballot was due to be voted on in early November, and the appeals court clearly wasn’t ruling out a corporate win, delaying the implementation of the new state law by 30 days to see which way the cookie crumbled.
All this uncertainty isn’t great for the share price though – Lyft stock slumped by around 17% over the course of October.
Seattle adopts minimum wageGood news for drivers, bad news for Lyft. In September, Seattle becomes the second major city in the US to vote that Uber (UBER) and Lyft drivers must be paid a minimum wage. The new law forces ride-sharing apps to pay their drivers at least $0.56 per minute while they have a rider in the car.
New York was the first city to demand minimum wage for drivers, back in 2018. The story doesn’t have a great ending though – Lyft claims that prices increased and rides decreased following the legislation, which has been bad for drivers, forcing many of them to work even longer hours or even sleep in their cars.
The market doesn’t love the news either – the stock drops 3.24% to close at $27.14.
Canada rides recovering quicklyLyft trips are up 7.3% in August compared to July, driven by operations in Canada recovering faster than in the US, says Lyft.
The price jumped almost 4% from $28.23 to $30.10 in response. Overall, however, the pandemic is still pushing down demand. In total, August rides were down 53% compared to a year earlier, said the company.
Appeals court grants extra timeLyft reverses its decision to suspend service in California after a California appeals court gives it extra time to comply with the previous order forcing it to reclassify drivers as employees.
Both Uber (UBER) and Lyft challenged the order, and the court gave them until October 2020 to appeal. Although its future in California was still uncertain, the stock recovered slightly on the news, gaining almost 6% to close the day at $29.76.
Lyft reverses its decision to suspend service in California.
Better than expected Q2 resultsAnalysts expected tough times for Q2 earnings, but the radical cost-cutting measures seem to have worked and Lyft reports better-than-expected figures.
Revenues were down by 61% year-on-year, as expected, but net losses were just $437.1 million, compared to $644.2 million in the same period of 2019. CFO Brian Roberts also predicted that the company would still achieve profitability in Q4 of 2021, even with up to 25% fewer rides.
But the company ducked the outlook for the rest of 2020, and declined to provide any predictions for Q3. Nor did the earnings didn’t do much for the share price, which barely moved, and continued to sit around $30 – less than half its IPO price.
Employee injunctionThe legal saga rumbles on. Back in June, California Attorney General Becerra filed for a preliminary injunction that would force Uber (UBER) and Lyft to immediately classify their drivers as employees. At a hearing on August 9 the judge agrees, and grants the order.
Both firms were outraged, claiming that the injunction would mean huge job losses. “The proposed injunction would cause irreparable injury to Lyft and Uber (UBER), and would actually cause massive harm to drivers and harm to riders,” Rohit Singla, counsel for Lyft, said at the hearing.
Lyft got pretty angry, threatening to cease operations in California completely if the injunction went into effect as planned on August 20.
Revving up for rentalLyft diversifies out into yet another new area, partnering with Sixt (SIX2) to let users access rental cars through the Lyft app.The program began as Lyft Rentals in 2019, with Lyft owning and operating its own rental fleet in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The new commission-based partnership model is a hit with investors, and the price jumps by almost 5% to reach $32.34.
Softly, softly, cautious recoverySigns of recovery are emerging, and monthly rideshares increase by 78% for Lyft in July, compared to April.
“While rideshare rides in the quarter were down significantly year over year, we are encouraged by the recovery trends we are beginning to see,” said CEO Logan Green. The July gains came after active ridership fell to 8.7 million during Q2, compared to 21.8 million in Q2 2019.
Lyft CEO Logan Green. Photo: Noam Galai / Wikimedia
Health and...happiness?Lyft doubles down on its commitment to user safety, rolling out partitions between drivers and riders to stop the spread of Covid.
The move expanded its Health Safety Program, launched on May 7 and based on CDC guidelines. The program included a personal health certification requiring all riders and drivers to self-certify that they are symptom-free, will wear face masks throughout the ride, and will follow CDC and local health official guidelines in order to request a ride or drive.
Sounds good, but the whole mask-wearing thing was actually a bit of a sore point. In early June, Lyft had launched its own online store selling masks and protective gear to its drivers – something that a whole lot of people (not least the drivers themselves) kinda thought they should provide for free. Needless to say, the move did NOT go down well with some folk.
Safety firstTimes might be tough, but Lyft isn’t lounging about – the firm adds a whole bunch of features over the summer to tempt users on board. One of them, released on June 25, is a new partnership with security giant ADT (ADT), through which both riders and drivers can quickly get help if they ever feel unsafe by contacting a trained ADT (ADT) professional directly through the Lyft app. .
It was a smart move - safety had been a major issue for ride-sharing apps ever since they first started to get popular. In December 2019 Uber (UBER) released its first ever Safety Report, which reported 3,045 sexual assaults and nine actual murders during Uber (UBER) journeys in 2018. Out of 1.3 billion trips, that’s not actually that bad, but it doesn’t make for great publicity. Lyft doesn’t come out unscathed either – 19 women sued the firm in December 2019 amid mounting allegations that the app was not doing enough to protect its users or enact basic safety measures. In such a tense climate, a security tie-up suddenly seems like a pretty good plan.
Tides changes and rides riseAlthough estimates suggest that Lyft’s ride counts are down by around 70% for the year, some good news comes out in June when the company makes a regulatory filing that shows its ridership up by 26% in May, as customers gradually return.
Lyft also added that its adjusted EBITDA loss for the second quarter would probably stay below $325 million if average daily ride-share volume in June stayed similar to May. The share price bounced up on the news, to finish the day at $34.44.
Fat is trimmed, costs are cutIt’s been a long ol’ quarter but Lyft is putting on a brave face and powering on through – and its Q1 results actually aren’t all that bad. Revenues are up 23% ($955.7 million versus $776.0 million in 2019) and net losses aren’t too horrific either ($398.1 million compared to $1.1 billion the previous year.)
A massive cost-cutting exercise also helped to reassure investors. “While the COVID-19 pandemic poses a formidable challenge to our business, we are prepared to weather this crisis,” said CEO Logan Green. “We are responding to the pandemic with an aggressive cost reduction plan that will give us an even leaner expense structure and allow us to emerge stronger.” This included plans to cut $300 million in costs by Q4, which along with the earlier layoffs, gave the market a whole lot more confidence in the firm’s ability to weather the storm.
Shares bounced up by over 20% the day after the results came out, hitting a high of $33.58.
Californian lawsuit landsCalifornia Attorney General Xavier Becerra on May 5 files a lawsuit against Uber (UBER) and Lyft, accusing them of unfair and unlawful competitive advantage by illegally classifying their workers as independent contractors.
The suit argued that the companies were depriving their workers of the right to benefits like minimum wage, paid sick leave, and unemployment insurance, and claimed $2,500 per driver. The markets did not like this move at all, and by the next day the share price was down to its lowest level in a month, closing at $26.12.
1000 employees let goTimes are tough. Lyft makes the drastic decision to cut headcount by 17%, laying off almost 1,000 employees and furloughing a further 288. Don’t forget that drivers don’t count as employees (yet) – this is just HQ staff.
It cut salaries by 30% at the top leadership level, by 20% for vice-presidents, and 10% for everyone else, and cut the board of directors’ cash compensation for Q2 by another 30%. The company also committed $6.5 million to Covid-19 response efforts, focused on supporting drivers and vulnerable communities.
Lyft cancels personal credit schemeRide-share schemes are struggling, and Lyft is no exception. In a further bid to cut costs, it cancels a key promotion that gives $5 in Lyft personal credit for every five business rides. Seems like a small thing, but it’s a big step for a firm that relies heavily on its promos to keep business rolling.
It was also an odd choice at a time when most travel loyalty programs were upping their game to try and keep customers during a period when business travel was trickling to a halt. The Lyft promotion was specifically designed to keep customer loyalty by allowing users to toggle between their personal and business rides within a single account – and removing it, some feared, could push customers towards other options, like Uber (UBER). It didn’t have a great impact on the share price either, which lost -12.48% to close at $23.50, it’s biggest single day loss in two weeks.
Pandemic causes challengesCovid-19 crashes in, and while some tech firms benefit from the pandemic (Zoom (ZM), we’re looking at you), now is not a good time to be in transportation. Whole countries lock down, remote working shoots up, and people stop going, well, anywhere. On March 17 Lyft cancels its “shared ride” option to try and stop the spread, but it’s still a tough month.
Figures are hard to find, but about 81% of Uber (UBER) and Lyft drivers in the US reported a decrease in demand since coronavirus measures began to be enforced, according to a survey from The Ride Share Guy. Lyft itself was tight-lipped about the impact of the virus on its operations, but some analysts estimated numbers for both Lyft and Uber (UBER) to be down about 60% on Q1 2018, while data from SuperFly (a firm that tracks spending patterns) predicted that its revenue could have fallen by up to 90% since the start of the year.
Lyft was at a bit of a disadvantage to Uber (UBER) in this situation, because most of its operations were centered on its core business of ride-hailing. By contrast, Uber (UBER) had its fingers in all sorts of pies, including an already successful food delivery business. Lyft had to race to catch up, and on March 20 launched its own grocery delivery app, alongside projects working on delivering medical supplies and meals to medical professionals.
The situation took its toll on the share price, which fell to a low of $16.05 on March 18, a loss of -58% since the start of the month. But this was its lowest point - from here, it would enter a reassuringly steady period of recovery. In fact, the very next day, it jumped 28.97% day to take it back up above $20, piggybacking on an announcement from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi that the company had plenty of cash to see it through the crisis.
Covid19 sucks. Photo: Jusdevoyage / Unsplash
Pollution problemsIt’s not been a good month, with Lyft stock losing about 20% over the course of February. And it ends badly, with the Union of Concerned Scientists claiming that ride-hailing trips produce almost 70% more pollution by displacing low-carbon options like biking, walking, or public transport. The news hits the headlines and pushes the stock down by almost 5% to breach the $40 barrier, ending the day at $39.86.
The scientists’ report recommended that ride-sharing apps like Uber (UBER) and Lyft should try harder to electrify their fleets, and push customers to take more pooled rides. To be fair though, both firms have already worked hard to reduce their carbon footprint, through projects like bike and scooter-sharing services, and incentive programs to switch drivers over to electric cars.
Lyft has been especially keen on the green, rolling out a multi-million dollar investment program back in 2018 to become completely carbon neutral through the mass purchase of carbon credits (investments in environmental projects that balance out its own emissions). In June 2020, it made an ambitious commitment to become a fully electric fleet by 2030.
“Now more than ever, we need to work together to create cleaner, healthier, and more equitable communities,” said Co-Founder and President John Zimmer. “Success breeds success, and if we do this right, it creates a path for others. If other rideshare and delivery companies, automakers and rental car companies make this shift, it can be the catalyst for transforming transportation as a whole."
Photo: Kennedy Jerome Jome / Unsplash
Losing ground to Brother UberThe share price climbs by 7.61% up to $53.72 on February 10 ahead of Q4 2019 results, which the market is expecting to be good. But it’s swings and roundabouts, and disappointment over its failure to turn a profit sends the stock tumbling.
Shares dropped more than 5% in extended trading, and by the end of February 12 had fallen a further 10.16% to close at $48.46. But why so mad, bro? Well, Lyft reported a revenue jump of 52% to top $1 billion for the first time, while net losses also shrank yet again, to $356.0 million. So in theory, good news. The problem was that the company didn’t provide any updated guidance on when it expected to turn a profit – which really pissed people off, after they’d made a big song and dance about becoming profitable a year early back in September.
Disappointed investors punished the firm by selling out – and in many cases, buying Uber (UBER) instead, which a few days earlier had released some seriously good quarterly numbers and forecast its first quarterly profit by the end of the year. The race just got real.
Lyft cuts 2% of staffDesperately trying to staunch the flow of losses, and with its promise of profit by 2021 looming overhead, at the end of January Lyft makes the radical decision to cut 2% of its staff in a cost-cutting exercise.
This isn’t as drastic as it sounds – it equated to about 90 jobs, a heck of a lot less than the 1,000 staff that Uber (UBER) let go the previous year when it embarked on a similar slash and burn. But those 90 people probably weren’t too happy about it. Nor was the market, which dropped -2.84% on January 29 to close at $46.84, although it bounced back pretty quick the next day.
Lawsuit loomsThe Assembly Bill 5 comes into effect on January 1, 2020, and all drivers in California are in theory now supposed to be classified as employees in California. Lyft is not happy, and joins forces with Uber (UBER), Postmates, and Doordash (DASH) in a lawsuit challenging the rule as unconstitutional. Interestingly though, the law doesn’t do much to the share price, probably because traders had already priced in the impact.
Official rideshare app for Capitol RecordsCar journeys just got cool. Lyft signs up as the official rideshare app for Capitol Records (VIV), home to artists like Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez. It kicks off the partnership with a huge party and exclusive Beck performance at the label’s Capital Studios in LA, inviting around 100 selected customers to the show. Pretty sweet PR stunt, and it seems to work – the stock hits a high of $46.09.
Lyft Pink launchesLyft debuts its all-singing, all-dancing new member scheme, Lyft Pink. Offering discounted fares, free bike and scooter rides, priority airport pickups, 15% off rides and a ton of other perks, the program is immediately popular. It doesn’t do much for the stock though, which stays hovering around $44.
Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash
Rival rideshare goes to big start-up heaven in the skyShares are up as rival New York ridesharing service Juno bites the dust. Lyft is up 4.23% to hit $44.86.
It was a win/win for the firm, which agreed a strategic partnership with Juno’s owners, the Volkswagen (VOW)-backed Gett, to transfer over Juno’s customers. The gains continued as Lyft got a bullish note from JMP Securities (JMP), and an upgrade to a buy from Loop Capital Markets. Analyst Jeffrey Kauffman said: "The US rides business is showing competitive rationality, allowing Lyft's share gain and margin expansion to continue."
Scooter business scoots down in six marketsLyft confirms the closure of its scooter business in six markets: Nashville, San Antonio, Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas and Columbus. It’s not a popular move, and the stock falls over 3% during the day to hit a low of $40.65.
But it’s not the end of the scooter business, first launched in Denver in 2018 as one of Lyft’s first big bids to expand beyond ride-hailing. In June it released a cool new fleet of Segway scooters, and claimed that riders were up about 20% in key markets like Denver and Miami. Looks like Lyft scooters might live to scoot another day.
Possible profit?Big news! Co-Founders Logan Green and John Zimmer reveal at the WSJ Tech Live conference that they expect to turn a profit a year early, and Lyft stock jumps 6.56% to close at $43.56.
A week later on October 30 the firm kept the positive momentum going with its Q3 results, which saw a 63% uptick in revenues and, more importantly, a much lower net loss of $463.5 million – a lot better than the $644.2 million the company lost in Q2, and the second quarter in a row that its losses had declined.
This quarter, the headline news was all about the holy grail of profitability. “Our third quarter results demonstrated the significant progress Lyft has made on our path to profitability,” said Green. “Importantly, we now expect to be profitable on an Adjusted EBITDA basis in the fourth quarter of 2021”. That’s a year earlier than analysts had predicted.
Share price drops by 50%Lyft hits a low of $37.07, a loss of almost 50% on its $72 IPO price. The company is worth half what it was, and the shine has well and truly rubbed off the coin.
WeWork chaos causes investor reassessmentDisaster strikes – for someone else. Shared workspace unicorn The We Company goes into meltdown and cancels its upcoming IPO. Big-spending, hard-partying CEO and Co-Founder Adam Neumann resigns, and it looks like the party is also over for big-name, high-value, loss-making tech unicorns.
The We Company, which was planning a $20 billion IPO despite heavy losses, came to represent the worst of the tech boom excess. Forbes called it “the most ridiculous IPO of 2019,” and the financial concerns flagged up by its initial IPO prospectus sent investors running for the hills. But what does that have to do with Lyft, we hear you ask? Unfortunately, more than you’d think.
The We Company failure marked the end of an era for high-profile but unprofitable IPOs, of which Lyft had become the reluctant poster child. It had nothing to do with them, but it hit them hard anyway. On the day Neumann stepped down, Lyft stock lost over 7.5% to hit a low of $41.70. Life’s not fair sometimes.
New law paves the way for driver unionsFears of a new labor law push shares of Uber (UBER) and Lyft to record lows on September 3. Lyft loses 7.25% during the day to close at $45.42, as well as hitting a new intraday low of $45.40. It’s not good news.
The Law, Assembly Bill 5, would force ride-sharing apps to class their drivers as employees instead of freelancers, adding massive costs to the companies in terms of benefits, pensions, sick days and so on. Good for drivers, but bad for business. It passed the California Assembly in May 2019 and California Governor Gavin Newson wrote an article voicing his support for the bill on September 2, hence the stock plunge. In a major blow to both Lyft and Uber (UBER), the State Senate approved it on September 10.
Q2 = lower lossesThings are looking up. Well, they aren’t looking quite so down, anyway. Lyft’s Q2 results saw net losses back down to $644 million for the quarter – half of the Q1 level – while revenues were up 72% to $867 million.
“Lyft’s second quarter was marked by strong execution and important advances in our product and platform. This translated to record revenue driven by better than expected Active Rider growth and Revenue per Active Rider monetization,” said Logan Green, co-founder and chief executive officer of Lyft. “We anticipate 2019 losses to be better than previously expected.”
The market liked these odds, and the share price jumped by almost 3% to $60.29.
Lyft gets an EmmyThey’re famous! Lyft’s Entertainment division gets an Emmy nomination for its co-production of Billy on the Street, a hugely popular New York-based comedy series hosted by Billy Eichner.
It also won brownie points by donating $150,000 in ride credits to support immigration groups across the US, as well as partnering with Raices, a charity providing legal services to immigrants. The PR people must have been working extra hard that month – good PR team, well done.
Early success with robotaxisToward the end of June Lyft’s robotaxi pilot program with Waymo in Phoenix officially kicks off. The market likes this self-drive stuff, and the stock hits a high of $66.64 on June 28, its highest since April 10, to finish the month up 14%.
Self-driving cars are the Holy Grail 🏆 for Lyft and the company has put a ton of effort into it. It first partnered with General Motors (GM) to develop autonomous cars back in January 2016, and since then has signed up with a whole host of other pilots including partnerships with Ford Motor Company (F) and Boston-based self-driving start-up NuTonomy in 2017. In March 2018 it signed up with Canadian mobility tech giant Magna International (MGA) to co-fund, develop, and manufacture autonomous vehicle systems, and in October 2018 it acquired Blue Vision Labs, a UK-based augmented reality start-up, to help its self-driving cars to extract information from street-level images.
A year on, the company’s autonomous vehicle initiative had around 400 engineers working exclusively on two self-driving projects: an ‘open-platform’ model where Lyft connects its users with partners like Waymo, along with its own highly secretive self-driving development program conducted out of its giant Level 5 Lab in Palo Alto, California. As of 2019, Lyft was testing 19 self-driving vehicles on public roads in California.
A Waymo self-driving car. Photo: Grendelkhan / Wikimedia
Shake hands, make friendsUber (UBER) CEO Dara Khosrowshahi suggests that the price war between Lyft and Uber (UBER) could be coming to an end, and the shares of both companies jump. Lyft gains 5.09% to close at $57.62 on May 31 as investors hope that higher prices could mean lower losses or even – shock horror – those mythical profits that most of the recent tech IPOs were still chasing.
“In the US, if you listen to the Lyft conference call, for example, they talked about competing more on brand and I think that competing more on brand and product is…a ‘healthier’ mode of competition than just throwing money at a challenge,” Khosrowshahi said on the firm’s Q1 earnings call.
In the latest chapter of their weird, linked and upside-down relationship, the Lyft price also benefited from Uber (UBER)’s poor Q1 results, which saw the firm losing over $1 billion over the quarter.
Sinking through the $50 ceilingLyft stock breaches the $50 to close at $48.15. There’s no real reason behind it apart from market volatility, and it regains fairly fast.
Uber IPO loomsIt’s the day before Uber (UBER)’s April 9 IPO, and Lyft stock inevitably suffers pre-wedding jitters, dropping 10.84% to close at an all-time low of $52.91. It doesn’t help that on the same day, rideshare drivers across the world go on strike to protest against Uber (UBER) and Lyft dropping their ride prices. It’s the latest in the ongoing sage around drivers’ rights, and it’s only going to get worse.
“The main demand here is Uber and Lyft pay drivers a living wage,” said Jeffrey Dugas, an organizer with Driver United in Washington DC. “Drivers are fed up with the fact that Uber and Lyft executives are bringing home millions of dollars while many drivers cannot afford healthcare, cannot afford to feed their families, even when they’re driving full time.” But Lyft disagreed, claiming that over the last two years hourly earnings had actually increased, with drivers earning more than $10 billion on the Lyft platform.
In some good news though (if you’re the sort of person who takes pleasure in someone else’s pain), Uber (UBER) tanked on its own debut – shares closed down nearly 8% from the $45 initial public offering price in one of the worst debuts ever for a major US listing. This gave Lyft a nice little boost, with the share price jumping over 4% to top $55.18.
First quarter results don't move mountainsFirst quarter results come out, and they’re a bit of a mixed bag. Revenues are up 95% on Q1 2018 to $776 million, but losses are almost five times higher at a whopping $1.14 billion. Lyft puts a brave face on it though – CEO and Co-Founder Logan Green calls it “a strong start to an important year.”
On a call with analysts following the report, Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberts also predicted that losses would peak in 2019 before starting to fall as the firm moved towards making a profit, and targeted total 2019 revenue at around $3.3 billion. The market wasn’t so sure though, and took the prediction with a big pinch of salt. The share price lost 2% over the day, closing at $59.34.
In spite of that, the actual figures weren’t half bad. The company had 20.5 million active riders in Q1, up 46% from 14 million in 2018. It also saw increased revenue per active rider at $37.86 compared to $28.27 during the same quarter last year. “Transportation is one of the largest segments of our economy and we are still in the very early stages of an enormous secular shift from personal car ownership to Transportation-as-a-Service,” said Green.
In the same week, Lyft also announced a partnership with Alphabet-owned Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project, to use 10 of its self-driving cars in its Phoenix, Arizona fleet. Robotaxis are the dream for ride-sharing apps – it would save them a fortune if they didn’t have to pay their drivers. Didn’t make much of a dent on the share price though, which was still reeling from the Q1 losses.
Analysts look on the bright side of LyftWall Street is upbeat despite the recent hiccups – 14 rate it a “buy” including IPO underwriters JP Morgan (JPM), Credit Suisse (CS), and Jefferies (JEF). Another eight class it as “neutral” with only one suggesting “sell.”
The ratings were published in a Bloomberg report following the end of the “quiet period” (when the underwriters of the IPO hold off on buying or rating the stock, so that they don’t get accused of unfairly promoting the deal) on April 23. Lots of analysts were still enthusiastic about the stock in spite of its ups and downs – John Blackledge of Cowen & Co (COWN) gave it an “outperform” and a $77 price target. Jefferies’ (JEF) Brent Thrill went even further, targeting $86 and writing: “We expect stock to recover as Lyft executes and misconceptions clear. Although bears argue Lyft will never make money, our analysis shows improving margins and per ride metrics.”
Didn’t do much for the stock though, which stayed below $60 for the rest of the month. It also didn’t help that Uber (UBER) launched its own roadshow on April 30, valued at around $90-120 billion (four times that of Lyft’s public offering).
Photo: Robert Bye / Unsplash
Investors start suingThe mob gets angry, and the flaming torches come out. Not literally, of course – but investors are seriously ticked off about the poor performance of the share price, and two groups actually decide to sue the company, claiming it lied to them in its pre-IPO prospectus.
Astonishing, but true. Investors really did file two separate class-action complaints in San Francisco’s state court, claiming that Lyft and its directors exaggerated its market position before it went public, which resulted in the sharp fall in its share price post-launch. In a long list of complaints, they alleged that: “Defendants made false and misleading statements in Lyft’s registration statement and prospectus issued in connection with the company’s March 29, 2019 initial public offering. The alleged misstatements involve Lyft’s claims about its domestic market share, failure to disclose issues surrounding the safety of the company’s bike sharing program, and labor issues.”
But the price stayed pretty stable, gaining over 5% to close at $59.51 – possibly because a lot of people actually thought the lawsuits were pretty dumb.
“Oh, Lyft wasn't maybe totally clear that the labor structure of the ridesharing sector is a famously terrible hellscape of uncharted legal nightmares? And there was perhaps some obfuscation about what a financial clusterfuck the business of renting out electric bicycles to the anonymous public might be?” demanded Dealbreaker. “Hiring a lawyer to pretend that you were lied to after buying depreciating stock in an obviously untested business model that openly lost almost a $1 billion last year is the worst kind of venal laziness.”
As of April 17 the share price was down 17% since IPO.
Broken bikes highlight diversification headachesLyft has to pull thousands of electric bikes out of its bike-sharing programs in New York, Washington, and San Francisco because of a braking problem. It’s not a major deal, but it spooks investors already worried about the firm’s lack of diversification in a competitive market.
The news came less than a month after the IPO, always a price-sensitive period, and the stock suffered: falling to a new low of $56.11.
Uber fears spark sell-offUnfortunately things don’t get much better. The price falls by over 5% on April 9 and a further 11% the following day (from $67.25 to $60.12) as investors get nervous over the upcoming Uber (UBER) IPO, which would give traders another, and much bigger, ride-sharing stock to bet on.
There were still some bulls out there fighting Lyft’s corner though. CNN’s Paul La Monica called the sell-off “silly,” pointing out that Uber (UBER) wasn’t profitable either.
A rough morning-after as stock sinksThe day after the IPO sees the share price start to plummet, falling below its IPO price almost immediately in the start of an ongoing downwards spiral.
The shares fell below $72 in early trading, wiping out all the gains made in its Friday debut and falling by almost 12% to end the day at $69.01. All the warnings about profitability seemed to be coming true, and there were a lot of annoying “I told you so’s”.
"This is staggering what we're seeing here. Staggering," said Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, which manages IPO-focused exchange-traded funds. "The profitless prosperity model doesn't work in the public market."
Lyft IPOsLyft raises $2.34 billion in its long-awaited IPO, pricing 32.5 million shares at $72, the top end of its target range, in the biggest public launch since Alibaba Group (BABA) in 2014. It’s a big deal, and everyone’s talking about it. But is it overvalued?
There was massive hype around the IPO, which edged in just ahead of the rival Uber (UBER) launch in April and kicked off a surge of super high profile tech listings in 2019. The roadshow started at the beginning of March with a price range of $62-68 but this was quickly upgraded as interest flooded in, and the final $72 price valued the company at $24.3 billion – a strong showing, although less than a quarter of the $120 billion expected from Uber Uber (UBER).
But not all unicorns are created equal. Unlike its telecoms counterpart Zoom Video (ZM), which listed around the same time, Lyft wasn’t profitable by the time it went public. In fact, although its revenues were growing well, it was reporting some serious losses ($911 million in 2019 compared to $2.1 billion in revenue) and some analysts were already nervous over its iffy financial performance and the rumbling legal issues facing ride-sharing apps around the way they treated their drivers. Most people didn’t want to miss out on the growth story of the year though, and ignored the uncertainty to pile in at the top.
Their eagerness made the company launch with a massive splash, and gave a decent Lyft to other techie IPOs including Pinterest (PINS), Slack (WORK), and Zoom (ZM). The stock made modest gains during the first day of trading, finishing 8.7% up at $78.29.
A journey of a thousand miles begins by going from Park to Drive. Photo: Lyft