For years, Uber tried to bulldoze ahead of Lyft and other rivals through a mix of aggressive fundraising and dirty tricks. At one point in 2017, Uber’s former CEO, Travis Kalanick, was caught bragging on video that it was “a piece of cake” to compete with Lyft. “I’ve beaten them,” he said.
But on Friday, it was Lyft who beat Uber to become the first ride-hailing company to go public.
Lyft began trading at $87.24 a share on the Nasdaq Friday morning, a more than 20% increase over its IPO price, but gave up some of those gains later in the day. The company ended its first day of trading at $78.29, an increase of 8.7%.
Its Wall Street debut could be a bellweather for the long list of billion-dollar tech startups expected to go public later this year, including Pinterest, Slack, Postmates and Uber.
Lyft priced its initial public offering at $72 a share on Thursday, valuing the company at around $24 billion. The amount was above its original proposed price range of $62 to $68 a share.
In an unusual move, Lyft founders Logan Green and John Zimmer joined other execs to kick off their Wall Street debut at a former car dealership in Los Angeles, thousands of miles from the Nasdaq. At a press event there, Lyft’s team announced plans to invest $50 million or 1% of its profits, whichever is greater, each year to support transportation initiatives in cities, starting with Los Angeles.
“Lyft has been successful against big odds because we have always prioritized the long term sustainable growth of both our community and our company,” Zimmer said at the event.
Zimmer and Green launched Lyft in 2012 with the goal of rethinking transportation and the necessity of car ownership. The service quickly developed a reputation as the friendlier alternative to Uber. Lyft marked its cars in the early days with furry pink mustaches and passengers were encouraged to sit in the front and even fist bump their drivers.