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Uber and Lyft have competed for riders and drivers across North America. They raced each other to go public. They even filed paperwork for their initial public offerings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the same day late last year.
Now that Lyft is publicly traded and Uber’s own initial public offering is approaching, they’re also going to be competing for stock investors.
[Uber is losing $1.8 billion a year, its I.P.O. filing reveals.]
By most measures, Uber is much bigger and has a more diverse revenue stream.
It is the world’s biggest ride-sharing company, with operations in 63 countries. Its revenue comes not just from ride-sharing but from Uber Eats, its food delivery business, as well as from its trucking business and bike and scooter sharing. By comparison, Lyft operates in the United States and Canada and generates almost all its revenue from its ride-hailing service.
Lyft, though, appears to be growing more quickly.
Here are four charts, based on company filings, that show how the two companies stack up.
Bookings are the revenue generated from rides. Lyft excludes taxes, tolls and tips, while Uber excludes tips. Uber’s bookings include what it charges for its food delivery service and other businesses.
Not surprisingly, then, Lyft’s bookings are significantly lower that Uber’s, but they are growing faster.
Lyft’s bookings surpassed $8 billion in 2018, 76 percent more than the previous year. Uber increased its bookings to $50 billion last year, up 45 percent from 2017.
At Lyft and Uber, revenue is the portion of bookings that goes to the companies — or, essentially, bookings minus what the drivers were paid.
Revenue at both companies increased quickly in 2018, though faster at Lyft.
Last year, Lyft’s revenue more than doubled from the previous year, to $2.16 billion. That was still far less than what its rival generated last year. Uber’s revenue hit $11.3 billion, a 43 percent increase.
Perhaps worrisome for potential investors, Uber’s revenue growth slowed as last year progressed. In the third and fourth quarters, Uber’s revenue increased 38 percent and 25 percent from a year earlier. Lyft’s revenue for those quarters rose 93 percent and 94 percent.
Both companies are racking up big losses. In this case, Lyft’s faster pace is not a good thing.
Lyft reported a loss of $911 million last year, up from $688 million in 2017. Uber lost $1.8 billion last year, excluding certain one-time items, but that was better than a $4 billion loss in 2017.
Costs and Expenses
The ride-hailing business is inherently expensive. Both Lyft and Uber are spending heavily to recruit drivers and attract riders. They are also making big investments in new businesses such as autonomous driving and bike sharing.
Lyft might be expanding its revenue faster than Uber, but it’s also increasing its spending at a rapid clip to catch up to its competitor.
Lyft’s total costs and expenses were $3.1 billion in 2018, up 77 percent from $1.8 billion in 2017. Uber’s topped $14 billion last year, a 19 percent increase from 2017.