Public Venture

Uber Follows Lyft’s Lead By Filing Draft IPO Paperwork With SEC

Last Thursday must have been a busy day for someone at the SEC. Sources confirmed with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times that Uber Technologies Inc. (better known simply as Uber) confidentially filed preliminary paperwork on December 6th to list its shares on the open market in an initial public offering (IPO).

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That would bring that day’s count of IPO filings by U.S. ride-hailing giants to two. Recall that Lyft also filed with the SEC that day. Reports indicate that both Uber and Lyft filed draft paperwork with the SEC, which can remain confidential until terms of the transaction are fully spelled out. Over the weekend, Crunchbase News spoke with two people at Uber concerning its IPO date, and both sources cited the second half of 2019 as the current timeline.

Uber holds a number of distinctions in the world of Silicon Valley startups. With over $15.91 billion raised to date (including $3.15 billion in cumulative debt offerings), Uber has raised more money than any other U.S. startup, ever. The chart below, originally published by Crunchbase News last month, shows just how much money Uber has raised over time.

The only two companies to raise more cumulative capital are based in China. Ant Financial has raised $18.5 billion to date. Uber’s principal Chinese rival, Didi Chuxing, has raised over $17 billion in funding, according to Crunchbase data. Uber sold its China unit (Uber China) to Didi in 2016 in a deal that valued the combined company at $35 billion.

Uber is also the most valuable U.S. startup to date. (Its place atop global valuation ranks was usurped by China-based Bytedance in October.) The company’s most recent valuation—as of late August 2018—was approximately $72 billion, post-money. That transaction closed $500 million in funding from Toyota Motor Corporation, reportedly to finance self-driving car efforts.

In October, our EIC Alex Wilhelm wrote about how an Uber IPO could value the company at more than $120 billion (according to bankers) compared to an estimated valuation of $15 billion for its chief rival, Lyft. That Uber valuation was a much higher figure than the figure above. This is a company that lost $1.375 billion in the first half of 2018 and $1.07 billion in the third quarter alone.

Alex also pointed out that both companies are “deeply unprofitable,” with Lyft being even more unprofitable than Uber at least on a percent-of-revenue basis.

Here’s some Uber financials from the first half of the year that Alex put together:

  • H1’18 revenue: $5.4 billion.
  • H1’18 revenue growth from H1’17: 66.6 percent.
  • H1’18 net loss: $1.375 billion.1
  • Net margin: -25.5 percent.

In the third quarter, Uber’s revenue totaled $2.95 billion. This was 38 percent greater than its year-ago result, but overall—as Alex wrote—revenue growth fell from over 8 percent on a sequential-quarter basis to 5 percent in the third quarter.

So, thinking about an IPO with those numbers does give one pause. But it looks like Uber’s forging ahead. As we mentioned last week, it feels like Uber and Lyft have been in a race to the public markets because how one prices and performs will almost certainly influence the other’s pricing and performance.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias


  1. This does not include Uber’s gains from selling off its operations in China and Russia. We’re looking at Uber’s comparable figures minus one-time gains from market exits.

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