Lyft Cut Losses on Sharply Higher Revenue in First Half

Lyft’s finances improved in the first half of 2017, new documents show, as the company lost less money on revenue estimated to be 200% higher than the year-earlier period. Lyft’s improvement came as U.S. ride-hailing leader Uber experienced scandal after scandal, which shifted some riders to Lyft.

Lyft brought in $483 million in revenue in the first half of the year, more than all of last year, according to recent company financial statements viewed by The Information. Revenue in the first half of last year is estimated to be around $150 million, although accounting changes make a straight comparison difficult. Lyft’s net loss fell to $206 million from $283 million, the financial statements show.

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The two rivals are tough to compare. Uber operates in dozens of countries, while Lyft operates in the U.S. only, plus a foray into Canada that’s launching soon. A portion of Uber’s increased third-quarter loss came from funds set aside to cover its ballooning legal costs, according to two people familiar with the issue. Lyft doesn’t need that kind of legal war chest. Uber also has the burden of a costly self-driving car division, whereas Lyft’s own R&D center is tiny by comparison. Those units aren’t likely to contribute meaningfully to the core business for years.

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Lyft and Uber now exclude most of the revenue they book through their shared-ride services, Lyft Line and UberPool.