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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 7:03 PM

 

Lyft moves San Francisco IPO roadshow as drivers protest

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Disgruntled drivers showed up at the Omni hotel in San Francisco hoping to make their feelings known to the executives, bankers and potential investors at Lyft Inc’s IPO roadshow meeting. 
 
No one was there. 
 
Lyft’s scheduled March 25 meeting was held at the Olympic Club instead. It had originally been planned for the Omni, according to a term sheet reviewed by Bloomberg when the roadshow was announced. 
 
Dozens of drivers and their supporters nevertheless protested in the rain, decrying the cuts foisted upon them by Lyft while, they believed, the executives and bankers were hosting lunch for would-be investors inside. 
 
“I’m here to let them know how they really treat their drivers and how unfair the wage cuts have been and how hard it is for us to earn a decent living, living in the most expensive city in the US,” said Rebecca Stack, a Lyft driver for a year and a half. 
 
The Lyft roadshow was moved from the Omni because a larger space was needed for the event, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because it wasn’t public. 
 
Lyft has a “strong track record of helping drivers increase their earnings”, company spokesman Adrian Durbin said in an emailed statement. “Drivers are integral to our mission of improving people’s lives through the world’s best transportation,” he said. 
 
March 28 IPO 
 
The No. 2 ride-hailing company in the US is set on March 28 to price its initial public offering. Lyft plans to raise about US$2.1bil in what will be the biggest US listing so far this year and the biggest tech offering since Snap Inc two years ago. 
 
Complaints about compensation have been a mainstay for Lyft drivers and those at larger rival Uber Technologies Inc, which is expected to file publicly in April for an IPO, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. Some drivers for the companies have also sued -- unsuccessfully so far -- to be treated as employees rather than independent contractors. 
 
Lyft reached total bookings last year of US$8.1bil last year, with 1.9 million drivers providing more than 1 billion rides in the US and Canada last year, according to the company’s IPO filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also reported that it lost US$911mil on revenue of US$2.2bil for 2018. 
 
Potential investors who attended the lunch said the session was well attended and interest in the offering was high. Lyft’s management’s presentation took up most of the time, with only a few questions from the audience, they said. 
 
'Or you’re fired’ 
 
Jeff Perry, 38, a Lyft driver for almost three years, said outside the Omni that the company is “constantly” cutting payments to drivers. 
 
“I equate it to a traditional employee being called into the office every 60 days and being told hey your wages are getting cut, click here or you’re fired,” Perry said. 
 
He said he wants prospective investors to know that the “pretty picture” painted by Lyft executives and their bankers doesn’t exist. 
 
Shona Clarkson, an organiser for the group Gig Workers Rising, said the San Francisco protest coincides with a driver’s strike in San Diego and Los Angeles. 
 
 - Bloomberg 
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