Since Uber's launch, the company has been the market leader in the ride-hailing sector, and although other companies have come along, none seemed to be able to knock it off its "top dog" position. Lyft has been trailing behind Uber, but it is only now that the smaller competitor could be catching up, as Uber attempts to cut losses by raising fees, whereas Lyft is using a cash infusion to expand its U.S. presence.
According to a recent report by the travel-expense software maker Certify, Uber's share of the U.S. ground transportation market among business travelers fell to 54% in the third quarter from 55% in the second. While Uber's market share is up from 48% a year ago, the decline is the first since Certify started tracking such figures.
Meanwhile, Lyft's market share rose three percentage points between the second and third quarters, to 11%, and is up from just 4% a year ago, according to Certify, which culled its data from more than 10 million receipts and expenses.
The shift was most pronounced in Uber's and Lyft's home base of San Francisco, where Uber's share among business travelers fell 8% while Lyft's rose 9% from the second to the third quarter.
Uber said the Certify numbers that indicate the slight market-share drop may be misleading, stating that the company is actually partnering up with more organizations than ever, as Uber can provide a centralized bill, which eliminates the need for rides to flow through expense platforms in the first place.
Still, the results may spell additional good news for Lyft, which earlier this month said it received a $1 billion funding round led by Google parent Alphabet.
Valued at as much as $60 billion, Uber has never reported a profit and could risk ceding further market share if it attempts to raise prices and add fees in order to cut operating losses. The closely held company doesn't disclose profit figures, though earlier this year it said it took a $2.8 billion loss on $6.5 billion in revenue last year when it sold its money-hemorrhaging China operations to Didi Chuxing.
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