Lyft’s rush to avoid being overtaken by road hog Uber makes sense. Like Lyft, Uber plans an initial public offering (IPO) in 2019. Lyft is expected to seek a $20bn-$25bn valuation. Uber aims for a market value four or five times as big. Going first means Lyft gets to focus minds on its US ride-hailing business, not its rival’s global transportation network. Even so, the company’s prospectus makes its valuation look racy. Lyft had 31-million riders in 2018 and revenues of $2.2bn. If it lists at $25bn, it will do so on a trailing revenue multiple of 11 times. Uber seems to be aiming for a similar multiple. Such rear-view valuations can, of course, be distorting. Both companies talk of changing future transportation. City dwellers too impatient for buses and too lazy to walk are becoming addicted to stepping into a waiting car. If Lyft one day has a fleet of autonomous cars, it could take a bigger share of gross bookings. Lyft has benefited from Uber’s formerly cavalier approach toward...

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