The ride hailing firm Lyft has filed the paperwork to go ahead with an initial public offering (IPO) of its stock as early as the first half of next year, beating arch-rival Uber to the punch. 

Lyft's share price and number of shares to be offered are yet to be determined.

Three major banks are working with Lyft to lead the IPO in March or April:  JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse Group, and Jefferies Financial Group.  They've pitched valuations for the company ranging from about US$18 Billion to $30 Billion, although Lyft's own private estimates were more like $15 Billion.

"It's not surprising that Lyft is going public before Uber because in many ways they are in better shape to go public than Uber is," said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s business school and the author of "The Sharing Economy".

Both major US ride hailing firms are having a hard time making money, and IPOs will go a long way towards filling coffers and paying back those venture capital investors.  Lyft lost lost $254 million in the third quarter of last year.  Uber just posted another quarter of stunning losses, more than US$1 Billion, after $4.5 Billion of losses in 2017.