Lyft’s New York problem

A Lyft driver picking up passengers.
A Lyft driver picking up passengers.
Shutterstock
A Lyft driver picking up passengers.

Lyft’s New York problem

Lyft filed its initial public offering last week but that doesn't mean its issues with the city are over.
March 5, 2019

Lyft, the app-based ride-hail company, filed its initial public offering last week, beating rival Uber to the IPO punch. Some are predicting that the filing will be the first of many anticipated unicorn IPOs this year, with other possible companies including Uber, Pinterest and Airbnb. 

But in New York, Lyft has had something of a rocky few years, even with successes as large as acquiring Motivate, the bike-share company that operates Citi Bike. In the past, Lyft has garnered a more favorable, ethical image than Uber, which found itself mired in a series of controversies and scandals. But recently, Lyft has had a more difficult time distinguishing itself from Uber, especially in its reactions to new ride-hail regulations in New York.

Lyft is currently suing New York City over new driver minimum pay rules that were instituted earlier this year. (Lyft has since agreed to pay its drivers according to the new wage formula while the lawsuit is pending.)

Another regulation introduced last year sets a cap on new registrations for app-based for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft in the city. While both Uber and Lyft oppose the cap, it seems the two are taking turns litigating, as Uber filed suit against the city over the cap last month. Either way, regulations like the new minimum pay and the cap will be of interest to investors, as Lyft will be subject to whatever restrictions the city or state agrees on next. Lyft may be celebrating crossing the IPO finish line first, but the company admitted some apprehension about regulations coming down the pike in the S-1 form it filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week. In the “risk factors” section, the company listed “a wide range of laws and regulations, many of which are evolving,” which could be a nod to New York, the place from which the most stringent restrictions are arguably emanating.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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