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For its first five years, Lyft was a quirky also-ran, facing daily existential challenges from governments and its arch-rival, the market leader Uber.

But now Lyft is in the lead in an important way: It's filed a draft registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning it's likely to go public before Uber, in early 2019. 

Yes, Uber is still much bigger. But Lyft has delivered over 1 billion passengers and is now valued at $15 billion, with about 35 percent of the U.S. ride-hail market. It's acquiring the biggest bike-share company in the U.S.: Motivate, which has 80 percent of that market. And, like Uber, it's deep into researching driverless cars.

Granted, it hasn't diversified its revenue streams beyond ride sharing as quickly as Uber, or gone international. But that also means its business is less complicated than Uber's, so it's been able to slipstream behind its larger rival a bit, letting Uber be the trailblazer while Lyft benefits from the clearer path. 

It might well be that Lyft goes public, and then Uber's IPO dwarfs it a few months later. But, if your company's challenge in life is that you wind up being only the second-most valuable 21st century transportation and technology company--well, that's the kind of problem a lot of people would be thrilled to have. 

Here's what else I'm reading today:

One step closer to the drones taking over

Wing, Alphabet's drone company, is heading to Europe: Its second delivery pilot program will start this spring in Helsinki, Finland--8,332 miles away from the company's first pilot location, Australia. It's a sign of progress, though Wing is still a long way from launching in the U.S. thanks to regulatory struggles. Americans will have to wait to get those burritos delivered by air.

You might never get bumped off a plane again

Spurred by the United Airlines passenger who was infamously bloodied and dragged off an airplane last year, airlines have dramatically cut back on bumping people from overbooked flights. Surprisingly, they're doing so without losing money. How? Data science. 
--Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal

Today in smart hiring ideas

Are you still scrambling to staff up for the holiday season? You and, well, everyone else. This Wharton professor says there's a better way to handle the hiring crunch. The clincher: you're going to have to work together with your competitors.
--Thomas S. Robertson, Inc.

They will follow him ... follow him wherever he may go ...

It's been seven years since Occupy Wall Street, but protesters still follow JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to almost every public appearance (and some private ones). Their persistence seems to be paying off, as Dimon is reportedly annoyed by the attention, and it might even have affected his second thoughts about the idea of  running for president in 2020.
--Michelle Davis and Max Abelson, Bloomberg Businessweek

The biggest game-changing innovations of 2018

They're turning trash into fuel and using genetic data to solve cold cases. Check out five companies that made strides this year on some very big ideas.
-- Kevin J. Ryan, Inc.