RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The ride-hailing app Lyft is going public today, and the IPO is expected to raise more than $2 billion. It is the first big tech IPO this year. And it came ahead of its rival, Uber.
NPR's Camila Domonoske has more.
CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: Lyft has come a long way from the fuzzy pink mustache. The company started in 2012. And, yes, the cars sported giant mustaches. Back then, Uber was a way to call a limo driven by a pro. Lyft was different. It featured ordinary cars driven by ordinary people with a friendly vibe, like in "The Lyft Song."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE LYFT SONG")
PETER CHUNG: (Singing) How about a Lyft? I'm on my way. I'll pick you up.
DOMONOSKE: At the time, the idea that people would hop in a stranger's vehicle because of an app was kind of odd. But Uber quickly adopted the model too. Demand for shares is high. Lyft raised its target price just this week after seeing enthusiasm from investors.
But there are skeptics, too. Like many Silicon Valley startups, Lyft has been losing money since it was founded. It lost nearly a billion dollars last year. Adding new cities and recruiting more drivers is expensive. How can Wall Street be sure it will start making money in the future?
BENJAMIN LING: I think it's a really legitimate question for all of these companies that are going public.
DOMONOSKE: Benjamin Ling was an early investor in the company.
LING: I do think it is important to take a long-term view in terms of how they will achieve profitability. It's a really big unanswered question.
DOMONOSKE: There are other unanswered questions, like whether Lyft can keep its drivers happy. Many have pushed to be treated like employees and not contractors. In fact, Lyft is offering some longtime drivers a chance to get in on this IPO.
One thing is clear. Lyft has seen massive growth. Revenues doubled last year, and the company has topped a billion rides. And people will be watching this IPO. Uber is expected to launch its own IPO in the next few weeks, and that will be even bigger than Lyft's.
Camila Domonoske, NPR News.
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