Lyft moved its San Francisco roadshow meeting at the last minute amid protesting drivers

Becky Peterson / Business InsiderProtesters outside San Francisco’s Omni Hotel where Lyft investors were set to meet with investors on Monday.
  • Lyft’s founders are set to pitch West Coast investors this week as part of the company’s IPO roadshow.
  • Protesters mobbed the Omni Hotel in San Francisco ahead of the scheduled meeting there, while black cars circled and honked on the street.
  • The meeting was moved to the Olympic Club, about a 15-minute walk from the originally planned location.

SAN FRANCISCO – Lyft’s “road show” to promote its $US20 billion IPO was thrown into confusion during the tour’s San Francisco stop Monday as throngs of angry drivers staked out the planned venue and the ride-hailing company furtively relocated to a private club several blocks away.

The last minute venue change in Lyft’s hometown came as a surprise to some investors who turned up to the Omni Hotel in the city’s financial district only to be greeted by protesters holding signs and chanting loudly.

“Lyft, Lyft you’re no good, treat your drivers like you should,” protesters chanted on the footpaths of California Street, directly across from Goldman Sachs’ San Francisco office. The call-and-response chants carried on while hordes of black cars circled and honked outside.

The drama was a stark contrast to Lyft’s roadshow in New York last week, where the main questions centered around the company’s mounting losses and its expansion plans. Lyft is expected to list its shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange as soon as this Friday, in a highly-watched public offering that could raise $US2 billion.

Lyft decided to move the San Francisco roadshow to the Olympic club on Post Street, about a 15-minute walk from the original Omni location. The meeting’s start time was also moved up an hour earlier than what had been scheduled for the Omni, causing consternation among guests.

See also: Inside the Lyft roadshow in NYC where investors packed the penthouse of a $US1,000-a-night hotel

Not everyone appeared to have gotten the message however, and the scene at the initial venue was chaotic. Staff at the Omni Hotel could not confirm when or where the meeting was taking place. Some investors who arrived at the hotel could be seen leaving soon after. And a doorman said that he was getting nervous amid the din of the protesters and black cars, as light rain started to fall outside

Omni Hotel SF Lyft protestsBecky Peterson / Business InsiderA view of the protesters from the Omni Hotel’s lobby balcony.

One investor that Business Insider spoke to complained that he missed part of the presentation because of the changes. After showing up at Omni Hotel and discovering the change, the source said he was so irked that he purposefully summoned a ride from Lyft-rival Uber to take him to the Olympic club.

A source familiar with the Lyft’s plans said the meeting was moved to the Olympic club because of “space” reasons.

The exclusive Olympic club doesn’t post membership requirements or details online, though some reports peg the cost at upwards of $US10,000 per year on top of an even larger initiation fee.

Drivers and investors are both worried about the same thing

The driver protests underscored the uncertainties and risks in the novel ride-sharing businesses pioneered by Lyft and its arch-rival Uber, which is also aiming to float shares to the public later this year.

Investors and drivers are both worried that Lyft and Uber will slash passenger prices in a bid to win more market share. At Lyft’s event in San Francisco on Monday, company executives were asked about the possibility of a price war, echoing similar questions they received during their meetings with New York investors.

Lyft executives also re-iterated the company’s plans to keep costs in line, vowing to refrain from even so much as testing the market in Asia, where competition is especially fierce.

The meeting protests in San Francisco coincided with similar actions by drivers in Los Angeles, who are striking Monday in opposition to what they say are consistent pay cuts by Lyft’s larger ride-hailing rival.

Lyft has touted its more driver friendly approach for years, but as it seeks to shore up its balance sheet and compete with Uber, that reputation has begun to sour. In New York, easily the nation’s largest ride-hailing market, the company filed a lawsuit to overturn new rules that set a minimum wage for all app-based drivers.

The company maintained its beef with regulators was about how the pay was calculated – through a complex “utilization rate” – and not over the principal of paying drivers. Still, the suit angered plenty of drivers and organising groups.

After San Francisco, Lyft will head to Los Angeles and the Midwest – including Chicago and Kansas City – ahead of the offering’s expected pricing on Thursday.

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