Lyft Inc. has filed confidential paperwork for its initial public offering, a key step that keeps the ride-hailing firm on pace to hit the public market early next year.
Lyft’s IPO is one of the most anticipated Silicon Valley debuts in recent years. Its confidential filing, which was expected, indicates it likely remains a step in front of rival Uber Technologies Inc. timing-wise, as both firms accelerate toward IPOs in 2019.
Lyft is expected to debut in March or April, according to people familiar with the matter. By filing with the SEC now, the company will have time to answer questions from the agency in the coming months and stick to that potential time frame.
Lyft, the much smaller of the two ride-hailing companies, is widely expected to beat Uber to the public markets, and in doing so would be the first company to allow public investors to buy into its fast-growing industry.
The IPO will be a test of how public investors will value these types of companies. Uber, Lyft and a host of other ride-hailing firms have received vast amounts of money from private investors at high valuations but still need lots of additional capital as they generate big losses.
In October, the Journal reported that Lyft had picked its underwriters for the offering. The firm’s valuation is expected to top the $15.1 billion it was valued at earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Uber, has received proposals from bankers that value it as high as $120 billion, the Journal reported in October. Companies often consider such proposals before hiring IPO underwriters.
Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi has said the company would aim to go public in the second half of 2019. But the IPO could come sooner, as Uber looks to tap a robust market for public offerings.
Lyft makes money by taking a commission on rides booked through its app. It posted third-quarter revenue of $563 million, up 88% compared with the year-earlier period, the Journal has reported. It lost $254 million in the quarter.
In November, Uber said its third-quarter revenue rose 38% to $2.95 billion, and it posted a loss of $1.07 billion.
Uber has weathered a series of scandals, including claims of workplace sexual harassment and the alleged theft of trade secrets from rival Alphabet Inc. Mr. Khosrowshahi has sought to win back investors, drivers and riders amid growing competition.