Lyft ($LYFT) is off to a white-hot start in 2020 - shares are up 22.5% this year in part thanks to comparisons to its biggest competitor. But is the optimism justified, or should it just be confined to Uber stock?
Part of its big bounce may stem from investors' and analysts' optimism around Uber ($UBER), its bigger competitor in the ridesharing space that also just reported better-than-expected earnings. Lyft numbers are due today after the bell and analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for losses of EPS -$1.22.
One of the things that has analysts so giddy about Uber post-earnings is signals of scale in other businesses - including freight (via its Uber Freight app) and food delivery. These are both businesses that represent a diversification of its future strategy - they're also businesses that Lyft has avoided. What Lyft has dove into - and what appears to be getting less attention from leadership from a hiring and budgeting perspective - is Lyft's bikes and scooters business.
Our chart above tracks tech and operations focused hiring for Lyft's bikes and scooters program - which pits it against other mobility disruptors like Lime, that have had to back away from ambitious growth plans after raising a fortune.
At Lyft - captured in the first chart - job postings seeking operations staffers for its bikes & scooters program are down 66%; tech job postings for this group are down more than 62%. Taken together, this looks like the trend toward scooters has run a red light, and is on its way to an accident.
It's not just the ancillary businesses, that Lyft is hiring fewer folks for. Engineering job postings have slipped 43% since before Lyft's IPO when it started trimming down on expenses to impress investors and analysts. Unfortunately, it's yet to see a meaningful rebound in engineering job postings - despite its biggest competitor reversing course, and starting to staff up on programmers.
Lyft recently laid off a handful of staffers but insists it has plans to grow. Looking at hiring categories including global operations, product and autonomous software - it's not clear that Lyft will be growing any time soon, and job postings globally have plummeted. It's another contrast to Uber, which recently began posting more roles for Engineering, Product Management, Design, and Backend developers.
Between Uber's reach, and its scale, the ridesharing startup is poised to be much more than just a company that gets passengers from A to B. And, thanks to its decision to diversify its business offerings, it's also positioned to leave Lyft in the dust soon.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.