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Uber's reported IPO filing puts it in same lane as Lyft

Both Uber and Lyft appear to be on pace for a public offering in the first three months of 2019.

Uber logo is seen on a car's door on the street in Kiev,
Getty Images

One day after Lyft submitted paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, Uber sent in its own confidential filing, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing "people familiar with the matter." 

The move puts Uber and Lyft in a race to Wall Street, an indication that both companies expect investors to have an appetite for only one ride-hailing company. Uber's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, had publicly said the company was focusing on going public in the second half of 2019, but it's looking like that timeline may be flexible.

With the filings, both Lyft and Uber are now on pace for a public offering in the first three months of 2019. 

As of October, Wall Street banks projected that Uber could raise as much as $120 billion in its IPO, Bloomberg News reported at the time. But that number could also come in around the company's current estimated valuation of about $75 billion. Lyft's IPO valuation is expected to be approximately $15 billion, analysts say. 

Lyft said it hasn't yet determined how many shares will be offered or what the price range will be. Its IPO is expected to begin after the SEC reviews the plan, the company said. Uber declined to comment on its reported filing.

While Uber and Lyft offer the same service, hailing a ride with a smartphone app, it's expected each company will point potential investors to different aspects of its business. Uber will reportedly showcase itself as a global company with diverse features such as food delivery and flying cars. Lyft, much smaller, with services only in the US and Canada, is said to be focusing on being a stable company that hasn't experienced the same kind of turmoil as Uber.

Khosrowshahi took over the helm at Uber in August 2017 after months of scandals under the company's former CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick. That year kicked off with more than 200,000 angry passengers joining a #DeleteUber movement, and it was followed up by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler's bombshell blog post detailing a chaotic corporate culture that OKed sexual harassment. Lawsuits poured in and Kalanick was forced to step aside, leaving the company leaderless for two months with a dysfunctional board of directors.

When Khosrowshahi joined the company, he was largely seen as the grownup in the room. He immediately announced his goal of taking the company public in 2019 and began sorting Uber out with that objective in mind. 

Khosrowshahi overhauled Uber's notoriously toxic corporate culture with several new hires who focus on diversity and inclusion. He improved relations inside Uber's board and sealed a $9.3 billion investment deal led by Japanese internet giant Softbank. He also pushed to settle Waymo's high-stakes lawsuit that alleged stolen trade secrets on self-driving cars.

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing. Several high-level executives have stepped down after accusations of sexual misconduct and racial discrimination. And one of Uber's self-driving cars was involved in the first known fatal crash of a vehicle in full autonomous mode. The company is also facing a handful of federal investigations, along with ongoing lawsuits and strife with its drivers. 

But Khosrowshahi appears optimistic that investors will be able to focus on the potential of Uber rather than past incidents.

"Movement is something you do every day. Eating is something you do three times a day," Khosrowshahi said at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in October. "We suffer from having too much opportunity as a company."

First published Dec. 7, 5:50 p.m.
Update, Dec. 8 at 10:05 a.m.: Adds background.

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