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Uber files for most anticipated Silicon Valley IPO since Facebook

Uber Technologies Inc. officially filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, setting up one of the most anticipated Silicon Valley IPOs since Facebook Inc. Read More...

Uber Technologies Inc. filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, setting up the most anticipated Silicon Valley IPO since Facebook Inc. 

Uber did not list a target price for shares, putting in a placeholder target of $1 billion for the total amount the San Francisco company seeks to raise. Reports this week stated that Uber expects to raise about $10 billion at a valuation of roughly $100 billion, but there is not enough information in the initial filing to support that information. The Uber offering is being led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, two of 29 banks listed as underwriters on the offering. The company expects to eventually list shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol UBER.

Uber, a ride-hailing service that uses a mobile app to connect prospective riders and drivers, is the most highly valued private company among a host of touted “unicorn” tech startups. It has collected a total of $13.6 billion in private investment, according to FactSet, and was valued at $76 billion in an August 2018 investment round, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The interest in an Uber IPO could eventually rival Facebook FB, -0.17%  , which went public with much fanfare in 2012. The social network raised about $16 billion in its IPO, the largest for a U.S. tech IPO after Visa Inc.’s V, -0.44%  2008 offering that neared $18 billion. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, -0.65%  raised about $25 billion in its 2014 IPO, the largest in history.

See also: As unicorn deals loom, IPO market has work to do to catch up with last year’s pace

As Facebook was the face of a new breed of tech companies that built off the advances of the dot-com boom, Uber is the most prominent example of the next generation of Silicon Valley startups, which leveraged mobile phones to create new avenues for commerce. Uber’s generation has stayed private much longer than Facebook and its ilk and collected more private investment, but there appears to be a flood of the so-called unicorn startups approaching Wall Street.

Smaller U.S. ride-hailing rival Lyft Inc. LYFT, +1.48%  went public late last month, raising more than $2 billion at a valuation of roughly $24 billion. Shares have dipped well lower than the $72-per-share IPO in the two weeks since, however, and closed Thursday at $61.01, giving Lyft a market capitalization of $17.4 billion. Other big-name startups that are expected to go public soon include Pinterest Inc. PINS, +0.00%  , which is expected to price next week, and Slack Technologies Inc. PagerDuty Inc. PD, +59.38%  , a San Francisco DevOps software company, shot 60% higher in its debut Thursday after receiving a valuation topping $2 billion in its IPO.

For more: Here are the big-name startups preparing for 2019 IPOs

Those companies pale in comparison to Uber in terms of name recognition and money raised, however.

“Uber is a once-in-a-generation company, and the opportunity ahead of it is enormous,” Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter included in Thursday’s filing.

Khosrowshahi, previously the CEO of Expedia Group Inc. EXPE, +0.35%  , took over the helm of Uber in August 2017, after founder Travis Kalanick stepped down amid controversy around the company’s culture and business tactics. Khosrowshahi admitted “missteps along the way” to the IPO in his letter, but insisted that he has established a new structure.

“Over the last decade, as the needs and preferences of our customers have changed, we’ve changed too,” he wrote. “Now, we’re becoming something different once again: A public company.”

Like Lyft, Uber said it would offer drivers on its platform a one-time cash bonus and reserve shares for drivers at the IPO price if they wish to buy them. Uber said it expected to pay out a total of $300 million to 1.1 million qualifying drivers, in amounts of $100, $500, $1,000 or $10,000, based on number of miles driven for the company.

Read: Meet the O.G. Uber and Lyft drivers who could cash in from the IPO

Uber reported $11.3 billion in revenue for the calendar year 2018, up 42.1% from the year before. The company reports only the portion of revenue it receives for rides and other services, as MarketWatch reported in 2017.

The company said it had an operating loss of more than $3 billion in 2018, an improvement from an operating loss of more than $4 billion in 2017, but claimed net income of almost $1 billion for the year thanks to the divestiture of operations in Russia and Southeast Asia and an increase in the value of its investments. Uber reported more than $3 billion in gains from the divestitures and almost $2 billion in unrealized gains from investments. Overall, Uber reported an accumulated deficit of $7.87 billion from its 10 years of operations.

Uber reported providing 5.22 billion rides in 2018, up from 3.74 billion in 2017 and 1.81 billion in 2016, though that number also includes trips made for its Uber Eats food-delivery service and made on what it calls “New Mobility” vehicles, such as scooters and bikes.

Uber counts each passenger that uses its carpool service as separate trips even when they are in the same car, but multiple passengers riding together in a more traditional service like UberX as a single trip.

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