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Lyft edging closer to IPO? Consider the VP it just hired

After getting more than $2 billion in funding in 2017, the ride-hailing company adds a mergers and acquisitions guru to its executive team.

Kristina Omari is Lyft's new vice president of corporate development and investor relations.

Fresh off the heels of $1.5 billion in new investor funding, Lyft is hiring a vice president of corporate development and investor relations. Kristina Omari, former vice president of corporate development for Fitbit, has been tapped for the job.

"She brings a proven track record of helping companies grow in a fast-paced environment," Brian Roberts, Lyft's chief financial officer, said in a statement. "Her skills and experience will help Lyft continue to expand."

Compared with Uber, Lyft has long been the small dog in the ride-hailing world. It's received $4.1 billion in venture funding and is valued at $11.5 billion, whereas Uber has received $12.9 billion and is valued at $68 billion.

But Lyft has steadily grown over the last year as Uber has been mired in scandals. It's launched in dozens of new cities across the country and now is as ubiquitous as Uber. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he's aiming for a 2019 initial public offering in the next 18 to 36 months. But Lyft may be looking at an even earlier IPO.

Sources with knowledge on the matter told the New York Times in October that Lyft was exploring going public in 2018. To reportedly strengthen its position for an IPO, Lyft had been seeking additional investments. It's received two big rounds of funding this year, totaling more than $2 billion. Lyft declined to comment on whether hiring Omari had to do with a forthcoming IPO.

Omari has worked in investment, strategy and mergers and acquisitions for the past 20 years. She joins Lyft from Fitbit. Before that she worked for Adobe, Hewlett-Packard and Lehman Brothers. Omari also co-founded a nonprofit called BuildUp, which assists tech entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds.

"Lyft has had an amazing year," Omari said in a statement. "I can't wait to help the company continue delivering for passengers and drivers."

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