Last week came news that Uber and Lyft have filed confidential IPO documents with U.S. securities regulators, while Slack has hired its IPO underwriter.

The temptation is to write that the companies are reacting to the public equities pullback, particularly in tech stocks, by rushing to price before the IPO window slams shut. The reality is that these plans have been in the works for months, including during the public equities surge in early Q3 and the post-Halloween sugar rush.

Moreover, filing confidentially now guarantees nothing in terms of market conditions for when these companies could actually go public. For context, Snap filed confidentially in mid-November 2016 and didn’t list until the beginning of March 2017.

  • Filing confidentially now is a recognition that everything is about to shut down for a couple of weeks, so this puts them at the top of the queue once everyone’s back at work on Jan. 2.
  • The “IPO window” is a real factor for smaller or even mid-sized issuers, but these three can go when they’re ready, almost regardless of macro market conditions.

There’s also been talk that Uber and Lyft are “racing” each other to go public first. This one is a bit more complicated.

  • In the end, first to market won’t much matter. Yes, the initial issuer will set some road show narrative and valuation multiples, but it should all come out in the wash after both companies begin trading. Just ask Box and Dropbox — which is a better comp than you might reflexively think, given that Uber and Lyft are pretty different companies in terms of both scale and product offerings, despite their shared core business of U.S. ride-hail.
  • That said, these two companies really, really, really don’t like each other. Some of that animosity has ebbed in the post-Kalanick era, but bragging rights remain a motivator.
  • Neither Lyft nor Uber knows when they’ll be able to go public, given that they represent a new category for securities regulators (unlike, say, Slack). If there are lots of questions, then filing now ensures that the actual pricing won’t leak into early summer.


One thought on “Breaking down the Uber-Lyft-Slack IPO rush

  1. Betty says:

    They are racing each other because Lyft absolutely should go first. Their valuation is fairly accurate and realistic, hovering around the $15 billion mark. Uber on the other hand, not so much. Uber has always over-valued its worth. Last year when there were talks with DiDi the agreed to have Softbank value both companies. DiDi came out over $75 billion, Uber came in at $45 billion. Since that valuation, Uber has done nothing to better improve its value, in fact quite the opposite. Uber has never had a grasp on its actual “what is the company worth”, autonomous testing (which would be like Uber designing a navigation app to beat WAZE — just wasted money), treatment of drivers (including pay cuts, unwarrented suspensions, not allowing drivers to proceed in court but instead demanding abitration, there are over 12,500 drivers who have filed arbitration cases (Uber has only gone through 235 of them since August — dragging their feet as always). They also lied getting funding earlier this year, by telling investors it was all about “self-driving” too ehich they recently admitted failing and be so far off on realistic dates where yhey become reality. Shame on you Uber! You could do so much good for jobs worldwide and environmental issues, and could still make HUGES profits! The world needs good companies making people happy WAY more than its needs a 4th place company in the “self-driving cars” game. Do the world right already!

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