Lyft shares debut on Wall Street
The Dow climbed 211 points Friday, or 0.8%, as Wall Street finished the quarter strong. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both rose about 0.7%.
After a tough end to 2018, the S&P 500 finished the first quarter 13% higher. It was the index’s strongest quarter since the third quarter of 2009.
After initially popping more than 20% in its Wall Street debut, Lyft (LYFT) shares fizzled somewhat as the day went on. Lyft ended its first day of trading up less than 10%.
Lyft priced its initial public offering at $72 a share on Thursday, valuing the company at around $24 billion. The amount was above its original proposed price range of $62 to $68 a share.
Daniel Ives with Wedbush: "While the Street is very excited for the opportunity tomorrow to take part in the massive growth out of the ridesharing industry there are also a number of risks/uncertainty in our opinion for Lyft including: competitive pressures from leader Uber as well as rising competitive forces, lack of a path to profitability in the near-term, regulatory uncertainty, and positioning within the next generation autonomous driving arms race."
Morningstar Equity Research: "From a strategic standpoint, Lyft is well on its way to becoming a one-stop shop for on-demand transportation. ... In contrast to Uber, Lyft is not focused on food transportation or logistics. We like Lyft's relatively narrower focus on consumer transportation but still note that Uber has an edge on Lyft in terms of an earlier start, higher market share, and a stronger network effect around its service."
I took two Lyfts to and from the Lyft (LYFT) headquarters in San Francisco today. Neither of my drivers were aware the company had begun trading just 30 minutes earlier.
In defense of my second driver, she knew an IPO was coming but wasn't sure about the timing.
When I arrived at its headquarters, I expected to see swarms of employees wearing hot pink shirts to celebrate the company's big day. (I saw some tweets about this on Twitter).
But instead, I saw one woman walking her dog in a hot pink shirt and another nearby in a gray Lyft shirt. The former told me there were more people outside earlier.
But compared to the pink confetti-filled scene in LA, the vibe in San Francisco was certainly more muted.
Here's one way for Lyft employees to celebrate the company's IPO: They could go out and buy some pricey Bay Area homes. A lot of them.
In fact, online real estate brokerage firm Redfin estimates that the shares and stock options held by Lyft (LYFT) employees are now worth a total of $1.3 billion. That's enough to buy all 624 houses in the city of San Francisco currently on the market and still have $300 million left over.
(Maybe the new Lyft millionaires could all buy season tickets for the Golden State Warriors too? Or sign Warriors stars Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to contract extensions?)
Redfin (RDFN) CEO Glenn Kelman told CNN Business he does not expect Lyft employees to go on a property buying binge right away. But he noted that housing prices in the Bay Area were stronger than he expected after the Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) IPOs.
And even though there are reports that housing prices for parts of the Bay Area are starting to dip, Kelman said home values in San Francisco are still "breaking the law of physics."
Income from stock sales of tech companies is distorting the market in San Francisco," he said.
Lyft, like Uber, built its business on the backs of drivers. But what happens to drivers and their concerns, from pay to worker rights, once the companies start feeling pressures from Wall Street to make money?
Drivers and analysts tell CNN Business they aren't so sure things will improve, but the companies would be smart to try.
As a token of goodwill to drivers, Lyft granted cash bonuses to drivers who meet certain ride thresholds -- $1,000 for 10,000 trips or $10,000 for 20,000 trips -- ahead of the IPO that they could opt to put toward stock.
San Francisco-based Lyft driver Jay Cradeur, who is eligible for the smaller of the bonuses, said drivers who were eligible for the bonus program were given a deadline to purchase shares on Thursday evening once the final pricing was set. Once his shares hit $100, he plans to sell.
NYU professor Arun Sundararajan says driver happiness is important to building long-term brand affinity.
"The driver is the face of the brand," he said. "The entire experience is controlled by the person whose car you get into -- if they're projecting, 'I'm underpaid and unhappy,' that's not going to be a good experience."