Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lyft IPO Analysis & Uber California Settlement

Lyft IPO

The Seattle Times' Monday 03/11/2019 Business section featured an article talking about Lyft's pending stock offering.  Entitled "Lyft's disclosures reveal a deeply indebted firm with little hopes for profits." and written by Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, it gives a very bleak, and some would say, very realistic projection of Lyft's financial future.  The first two paragraphs succinctly spells it out:

"Investing mavens who think of the big ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft as the next great opportunities to get in on the ground floor of a fabulously profitable stock must have been downcast by Lyft's financial report in advance of its pending initial stock offering. 

At least one would hope so.  The IPO registration statement made public on Friday reveled something the smart followers of this supposedly disruptive industry have known for years: Lyft is deeply, deeply in the red, and it has virtually no prospect of turning profitable any time soon, if ever."

Why did the reporter write this incredibly damning assessment?   In 2017, Lyft lost $696.1 million on total revenue of $1.06 billion.  In 2018 Lyft lost $911.3 million on revenue reaching 2.16 billion.  The remainder went to the Lyft operators and to CEO salaries and other compensations.  Co-founder Logan Green is said to have received over $935.000 dollars for what he called "personal security services" in addition to his normal salary.  In other words, he earned over one million dollars for doing what no one knows for sure.  Like Uber's former CEO, who are these guys enriching themselves, bilking their investors while all those drivers work for ride-share peanuts?  As I keep bringing this up, both Uber and Lyft seem to be little more than new variations of old fashioned Ponzi-style schemes.  This pending Lyft IPO appears to support that premise. 

The questions then surely must be two.  One, how can anyone be taking Lyft and Uber seriously, given their great financial losses, Uber losing at least $24 billion since its inception?  And two, why does the collective American taxi industry cower in the shadow of these two false, ersatz giants?  As successful companies go, they are a joke.  Shouldn't we stop crying, and instead, begin laughing at the fools they are?   That is my advice for the all of us.  Stand strong and laugh uproariously, the joke's on them, not us.  And perhaps  laughing at all those investors, as the saying goes, "throwing good money after bad."  Again---Ha Ha Ha!

Uber Settles with 13,600 Drivers

On March 12, 2019, news came out that Uber had settled with just over 13,000 of their independent operators for $20 million dollars over the standing issue of whether they were employees or somehow fitting in another category, as they had sought a new employment classification.  While failing ultimately in their effort, it appears they won a "Pyrrhic Victory," nothing gained except a bit of money, Uber ultimately regaining and winning their legal argument.  This occurred earlier in a September 2018 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, O'Conner vs Uber , a 385,000 member class action lawsuit, the ruling upholding Uber's arbitration clause.  The lesson here is be careful what you sign and agree to, and don't be surprised when, after signing away your legal rights, you are then kicked in the butt.  Uber is not your friend, and to believe otherwise is, plain and simply, foolish.

Hitting the Taxi Jackpot?

Just like in the movies, last week I came upon a sizable amount of cash left in the cab.  And how I returned it to the rightful owner.

Late last Sunday I picked up an older couple at King Street Station and took them to a DT Bellevue hotel.  Being my second to last fare of the night, with my last passengers failing to tell me something was sitting on the back floorboard, I only discovered the black travel bag in the morning.  A quick search in a side pocket revealed $160.00.  Finding that interesting, I called Yellow to tell them what I had found, along with calling the hotel in an attempt to reach the folks who lost their bag.

The hotel staff member was not helpful, acting like it was impossible to match the couple from Arizona to their check-in time, approximately 8:45 PM.  Frustrated with that, I looked further and found the names of both the wife and husband.  And in that search I opened a small pouch and found what appeared to be thousands of dollars.  Having the information I needed I didn't count all that neatly folded huge wad of bills but again called the hotel, and this time found myself talking to Frank, husband to the aggrieved Linda.

Later, after taking my brother home from his doctor's appointment, I got her belongings---money, cellphone, credit card etc back to them.  On the phone I told Frank it might be better if his wife didn't travel with that much cash on hand.  His short reply said much to his emotion upon the subject.

For me, I was pleased to be of service.  In 1991, while in Budapest, I somehow lost my passport.  An American embassy official, a Margret Higgins, got me my replacement passport in six short days.  Travel can be like this.  Things happen, good and bad, so it is great when assistance arrives in whatever form or guise, a welcome solution to real trouble.

Postscript 03/20/2019 12:04 AM---More Lyft IPO

In a NY Times article composed and reported by Kate Conger & Michael J. De La Merced, it is reported that Lyft hopes next week's stock offering will be valued up to $23 billion dollars.  As I've said, many think this makes little sense concerning Lyft as it has yet to turn a profit.  I quote one paragraph and let you decide what is up and down with all this financial hoopla.

"We're looking at Lyft as a bellwether for the summer IPO market," said Mathew Kennedy, a senior IPO market strategist at Renaissance Capital.  "The others in the pipeline are watching Lyft and looking to see whether investors are interested in companies that are highly unprofitable but highly valuable."

My question is, how can something be both highly unprofitable yet highly esteemed by investors?  It might be like saying though the beef steak on your plate is highly rancid while at the same time it is highly eatable.  Huh?

And what is a bellwether?  Separate the wether part and you have a castrated ram (sheep).  Ba Ba black sheep or something like that.  Maybe all these Lyft investors should instead buy Viraga stock.  It might be more financially uplifting, straightening out their economic heads.

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