Lyft filed an S-1 for IPO on March 18th of this year (2019). Since Lyft isn't yet a public company, we can't really know the true numbers of Lyft's finance. Nevertheless, leaked information tells us that although Lyft's revenues are increasing tremendously it is also losing a lot of money on operational and R&D costs. Leaked information may not be accurate at all, but if the information is accurate Lyft may have to struggle a lot before it can become a profitable company.
According to the information we have Lyft is operating at a loss of $911 million net loss in 2018. Net loss is very important because a net loss tells us that Lyft isn't a profitable company yet. It seems Lyft's revenues are not able to cover the operating and R&D costs. The general definition of a net loss is that the total expenses are bigger than the total of revenues.
Nevertheless, Lyft seems to boost its revenues very fast! In 2016, Lyft's revenues totaled $343 million, but if the information is correct in 2018 Lyft's revenues totaled at $2.2 billion. If one looks at this closer, it seems Lyft has a chance of making it if the revenues are going to continue to go through this positive, exploding trajectory for some time to come.
Lyft is considering investing more in R&D in regard to rolling out a self-driving fleet. If Lyft can get behind a self-driving fleet enormously and get the technology to work for real, then I think Lyft has a big chance to cut costs tremendously. If revenues continue to pick up, eating away Uber's market share, and cut costing measures are going to be effective -- Lyft could very well become a profitable company.
Lyft and Uber are competing for the same market, and both of these companies are driving Taxis out of business. Since Lyft and Uber are able to do this to Taxis, we can tell that companies like Amazon, Google, and even car rentals and car dealerships themselves could get into the same act as Lyft and Uber when self-driving becomes a reality. This could be a very crowded market, and if my intuition is accurate it could mean Lyft and Uber may have a very tough market to operate in as time goes on. So the profits/revenues Lyft is having now could very well dwindle in the future!
Self-driving will change how people commute in the future. Car dealerships can jump into the act of allowing people to hail self-driving cars. Perhaps, people of the future will not buy cars as much since they can just hail a self-driving car. Google and other big tech companies can also create apps to allow the sharing of self-driving cars like how we have bike-sharing now. This could mean companies like Google don't have to own a fleet of self-driving cars to be in the business of self-driving car-hailing. It's like people to people self-dealing business but using a futuristic app of a huge tech giant where the tech giant gets to keep a small portion of the profit.
In summary and in truth, I'm not very sure if Lyft could be a good investment or not. Leaked info tells us that the company got a good chance of becoming profitable since the revenues keep on exploding to the positive territory -- but the company has to be able to keep the operating and R&D costs down eventually! Nevertheless, the market in which Lyft is operating is possibly getting very crowded because of self-driving car technology. If by the time the market gets so crowded and yet Lyft isn't becoming profitable, then Lyft could find itself in a world of hurt! Personally, if I ever want to invest in Lyft, I won't make it as one of my long-term investments! If I ever invest in Lyft, I may have to watch out for the actions of other companies in the car-hailing market very closely. I may also have to watch out for new players that could enter the car-hailing market because new players could dilute the profitability of the car-hailing market.