Lyft, founded in the summer of 2012, is an on-demand transportation-as-a-service company that matches drivers with passengers who request rides through its smartphone application.
Shares of the ride-share company surged more than 20 percent during its Nasdaq debut Friday, ending the day off session highs and putting the company's valuation of about $22 billion.
Investors have been clamoring to get in on the action, and Lyft raised its price target over the course of the last week, settling on $72, which exceeded even its own expectations.
"This is a pat on the back for ride hailing as a category", said Rohit Kulkarni, senior vice-president of research at Forge. Some, like Amazon, which took several years to turn a profit after its IPO turned into great bets for early investors.
Lyft and Uber drivers have tried - and failed - on multiple occasions to be reclassified as full-time employees instead of freelance workers.
Due to its dual-class structure of shares-class A shares carry one vote each, class B shares carry 20 votes each-Lyft's cofounders Logan Green and John Zimmer will control nearly 49 percent of its voting shares despite owning only 5 percent of the company's outstanding stock.
"We are confident that the business will be very profitable", Green stated. In February, Uber accounted for 67.3 percent of USA rideshare spending, and Lyft captured 30.3 percent of the market, up 5 percentage points from a year ago.
In its SEC filing, Lyft disclosed that its revenue rose 209% YoY (year over year) to $1.06 million in 2017, and 103% YoY to $2.16 million in 2018.
Uber was first out of the gate when it launched a black vehicle taxi service in 2009.
The company's appeal to investors hinged on the potential for ride-hailing to replace auto ownership. Uber later added peer-to-peer ride haling to its app. Other tech companies considering going public on USA exchanges this year include Pinterest, Postmates and Slack Technologies.
Meanwhile, Lyft parlayed a warm and fuzzy image that it used to cultivate by adorning drivers' cars with a fluffy pink mustache to position its brand as the more socially responsible of the two ride-hailing rivals.
Lyft has focused on its mission of getting people to give up their personal cars in favour of ride-hailing, shared bikes and scooters, and has remained in North America. Beyond that, it has operations in the United States and Canada, with plans to expand internationally.
Lyft's main rival Uber is expected to make its IPO debut later this year. "The market right now pays more for possibilities than realities".
Co-founder Zimmer sounded upbeat.
Despite no near-term profitability in sight for Lyft, its IPO received an overwhelming response.
Both Lyft and Uber have been criticized for causing congestion in cities and creating hazards to bicyclists and pedestrians. And cutting costs by reducing pay to drivers also could prove hard.
The negative publicity helped Lyft attract new drivers and riders without spending much on marketing. "They could end up being a big player, they could be the mechanism and the platform for autonomous cars, or there could be a different platform that's developed - that's just one of those big questions that's out there". They also hit the biggest jackpots in the IPO.
The co-founder and president of Lyft owns 684,591 class A shares and 5,090,527 class B shares. On the other hand, it has the largest revenues of a pre-IPO company behind only Google and Facebook.