Lyft Moves San Francisco IPO Roadshow as Drivers Protest

(Bloomberg) -- 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 Monday 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 U.S.,” 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.

Thursday IPO

The No. 2 ride-hailing company in the U.S. is set on Thursday to price its initial public offering. Lyft plans to raise about $2.1 billion in what will be the biggest U.S. 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 $8.1 billion last year, with 1.9 million drivers providing more than 1 billion rides in the U.S. and Canada last year, according to the company’s IPO filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also reported that it lost $911 million on revenue of $2.2 billion 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 organizer for the group Gig Workers Rising, said the San Francisco protest coincides with a driver’s strike in San Diego and Los Angeles.

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