Lyft CEO says he won’t get into food delivery like Uber and is keeping people at home: ‘Loneliness is a killer’
hotlink]Lyft controls 30 percent of the U.S. ride-sharing market; Uber It dominates the rest. Lyft It focuses solely on ride-sharing in North America, while Uber operates overseas and offers services such as food delivery and shipping. Lyft is still losing a lot of money, but Uber is now profitable after a long wait.
Despite Lyft’s position as a distant No. 2, says CEO David Risher luck The company could eventually become profitable by doubling the ride-sharing experience for both drivers and passengers. “I run a ride-sharing company with a singular focus on getting people where they want to go,” says Risher, who took the reins last April and whose resume includes senior corporate jobs. Microsoft And AmazonHe reports directly to founder Jeff Bezos.
When he became CEO, replacing Lyft founder Logan Green, Risher was tasked with solving the company’s eroding market share, low employee morale, and a feeling that Lyft was unable to counter Uber’s superiority. These problems not only upset investors, but led to the departure of the company’s co-founders, Green and John Zimmer, although they remained on the board of directors. In its first year, Risher cut 30% of Lyft’s workforce, introducing new features like those that match male and female riders, and Make returning to the office mandatory. It has also lowered prices to better compete with Uber.
There are green shoots to bolster Risher’s case that Lyft is turning things around. Bookings on Lyft’s app rose 15% last quarter, boosting revenue 10% to $1.16 billion and significantly trimming its net loss, which fell from $422 million to $12 million. Although Rescher won’t say when he thinks Lyft will be profitable, he does stress that Lyft won’t chase Uber down every hole. As it stands, Uber has nine times more revenue and 26 times more market capitalization. Risher stresses that he’s fine with the smaller but more nimble and competitive Lyft.
“We really need to get the hang of it, and by that I mean the basics,” he says.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.
luck: I was recently in the UK and had to download the Uber app since Lyft doesn’t work there. Now that you are back in the United States, what is your retention policy?
We’ve only been in business eight months, but some of the things I’ve really focused on include making sure our prices are good compared to Uber and paying our drivers fairly. We have to differentiate between Lyft’s segment and its segment. For example, We have a Women+ Connect programme, which we launched in September and allows the female passenger to choose a female driver. Sometimes I drive for Lyft and I talk to passengers all the time who say, “I like your values better.” Uber made mistakes. We’re also very focused on ride sharing, while they have a bunch of other businesses.
Do you have enough women drivers to support Women+ Connect?
We don’t do that. Only 23% of our drivers are women, and they drive only about 15% of our working hours. It’s a long-term strategy, not just a short-term switch. We are trying to build an ecosystem where up to 50% of our drivers are women.
Uber Eats is a delivery giant, but you insist that food delivery is not Lyft’s business. Why?
I run a ridesharing company with a singular focus on getting people where they want to go. We really need to get good at it, and by that I mean the basics and get the whole thing sorted. The ride-sharing industry has been a bit old-fashioned in terms of innovation. It’s not just a philosophy: it’s consistent with what the world needs. The Surgeon General says loneliness is fatal. There are plenty of opportunities to get people out, which is the exact opposite of getting lo mein to their homes, which, if anything, encourages people to stay home.
Let’s talk about bike sharing programs, a small but significant part of your business. The comptroller for New York City, where it runs the Citi Bike program, recently said the reliability of the program has declined since Lyft took over. Is this program worth it?
The New York City comptroller is wrong. They used very old data. But yes, bike share programs are operationally intensive. It’s a capital-intensive business, so we were looking for a partner who could help us on the financial side and understand the city’s infrastructure.
One of Lyft’s long-term goals is for its vehicle fleet to be 100% electric. Given that some EV manufacturers It reduced productionIs this goal still achievable?
We’re making significant progress in some states, and California is Exhibit A. One of the things I learned from Bezos was to be firm about your strategy but also flexible about the details. Unfortunately, I think the world is telling us, not just Lyft, that there are different pieces that all have to line up, like charging ports, human interest, and gas prices, to stimulate electric vehicle adoption.
When you became CEO last year, how did you gain buy-in from the general public, many of whom only knew the founders?
I came with a very clear message, which is that we are going to focus on ride sharing and we are going to be obsessed with our customers. None of these things were really true with John and Logan. They’ve expanded to include things like rentals and food delivery. I also make sure that our drivers are well paid and treated with respect. One general truth about human beings is that no one likes to feel like something is being taken from them, like their leader. John and Logan were incredibly supportive. There was none of that vandalism or loitering. They just wanted the company to succeed.
Before Lyft, you led a non-profit called Worldreader. What did you learn there that helps you with Lyft?
People in the nonprofit world often say that nonprofits should be run like for-profit organizations. I’m here to tell you that for-profit organizations should be run like nonprofits. On a cost basis alone, nonprofits deal with some of the biggest problems in the world, and have some of the smallest budgets, so they must be rigorous about controlling costs and fundraising each year. So you really have to be smart, disciplined and focused.
I studied literature at Princeton University when I was an undergraduate. Do you wish other tech CEOs had backgrounds in the humanities, too?
I totally do that. When you read a book, you look at the world from someone else’s perspective. You learn ideas from people and push yourself into other people’s brains. The world of technology can, to its detriment, be very analytical, somewhat arrogant, and self-interested, and these characteristics are anti-empathic. So, if you try to understand people through literature and texts, you are well equipped to enter a world where the things we do in technology have a huge impact on society.
This story originally appeared on Fortune.com