By Joshua Franklin and Diptendu Lahiri
(Reuters) - Lyft Inc kicked off the investor road show for its initial public offering on Monday, targeting a valuation of up to $23 billion and seeking to woo money managers before larger ride-hailing rival Uber Technologies Inc goes public in April.
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.
Both Uber and Lyft are losing money, so like several unicorns before them, they will seek to tap investor anxiety about missing out on a red-hot technology IPO. Yet despite the hype, some investors and analysts say they will push the companies to outline a path to profitability, as well the prospects of eventually replacing some of their drivers with self-driving vehicles.
"They need to give us some good direction on when they expect to turn the corner and get to profitability, and let us know what a sustainable sales and marketing level is," said Kathleen Smith, founding principal at Renaissance Capital, a research firm and manager of IPO-focused exchange-traded funds.
San Francisco-based Lyft said in a regulatory filing on Monday that it plans to sell a little more than 30 million class A shares, which have fewer voting rights than class B shares, at between $62 and $68 per share.
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. The company would fetch a public market capitalization, which counts only shares listed, of just over $19 billion at the top end of the indicated price range.
Lyft is on track to be the biggest U.S. technology IPO since Snap Inc in 2017, and would be the tenth-largest technology or internet IPO of all time in the United States, according to data provider Dealogic.
Lyft begins its IPO road show in New York on Monday and Tuesday. The company will have meetings in Boston and New York later 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.
The road show will move to the U.S. Midwest and West Coast next week. The company is scheduled to debut on Nasdaq on March 29 under the symbol "LYFT."
SIMPLICITY VERSUS DIVERSIFICATION
Uber hopes for a valuation of as much as $120 billion, according to sources, although some analysts have pegged it closer to $100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed. Uber is planning to kick off its IPO in April, Reuters has reported.
Uber, which promotes itself as a global logistics and transportation company, is much larger and more diverse than Lyft, whose core focus remains ride-hailing.
(Uber and Lyft, side-by-side: https://tmsnrt.rs/2VAzDBQ)
Lyft will pitch investors on the simplicity of its business, while Uber is expected to play up its more diversified strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.
After Lyft's IPO, Green, the CEO, and Zimmer, the firm's president, will collectively have just shy of 50 percent of the company's voting rights. Their stakes would be worth $569.4 million and $392.7 million respectively, if the IPO prices at the top its target range.
Their firm grip on the company has been criticized by some investors focused on corporate governance.
"Lyft's dual-class share structure leaves investors virtually powerless. This is highly risky for long-horizon investors and for the integrity of the capital markets," Ken Bertsch, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, said in a statement earlier this month.
Lyft has nearly 40 percent of the U.S. ride-sharing market, but has warned that further growth could come at the expense of more losses for a company already deep in the red.
Lyft's revenue was $2.16 billion for 2018, double the previous year's and far higher than $343 million in 2016. It posted a loss of $911 million in 2018 versus $688 million in 2017.
J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Jefferies are among the lead bookrunners for the listing.
(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by James Emmanuel, Jeffrey Benkoe and Dan Grebler)