With a ring of the opening bell, Uber began picking up passengers as a newly minted public company Friday, giving investors a chance to bet on a service with huge potential but a long way from turning a profit. Shares in the ride-hailing giant were sold in an initial public offering for $45 each, raising $8.1 billion, but it will take several hours for new investors to show how much they're interested, per the AP. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and other company officials stood on a balcony above the New York Stock Exchange and clapped as the bell rang to signal the start of the day's trading. The IPO price on Thursday came in at the lower end of Uber's targeted price range of $44 to $50 per share. That caution may have been driven by escalating doubts about the ability of ride-hailing services to make money since Uber's main rival, Lyft, went public six weeks ago.
Jitters about an intensifying US trade war with China have also contributed to the caution: Stocks opened broadly lower on Wall Street after the two countries failed to reach a deal before Friday's tariff deadline. Even at the tamped-down price, Uber now has a market value of $82 billion—five times more than Lyft's. Uber's IPO is an attempt to fend off Lyft in the US and help cover the cost of giving rides to passengers at unprofitable prices. The San Francisco company already has lost about $9 billion since its inception and acknowledges it could still be years before it turns a profit. That sobering reality is one reason Uber fell short of reaching the $120 billion market value that many observers thought its IPO might attain. Another factor: the cold shoulder investors have been giving Lyft's stock. Its shares closed Thursday 23% below its $72 April IPO price. (Read more Uber stories.)