- For the American ornithologist, see John Todd Zimmer.
|Born||March 14, 1984|
Co-founder and President of Lyftformerly co-founder and COO of Zimride
John Zimmer is the co-founder and president of Lyft Inc., which he founded with Logan Green in 2012. Lyft operates in more than 60 cities in the U.S. with more than 10 million shared rides taken to date.
Zimmer grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. In 2006, Zimmer graduated first in his class at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and was a member of the Quill and Dagger society, as well as a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. After graduation, Zimmer worked as an analyst in real estate finance at Lehman Brothers in New York City. While at Lehman Brothers, Zimmer spent most of his time creating real estate models in Microsoft Excel. Zimmer left Lehman Brothers three months before it declared bankruptcy. In 2007, alongside Logan Green, Zimmer founded Zimride, a ridesharing platform that coordinated carpools, especially across college campuses.
While at Cornell, Zimmer was inspired to develop a rideshare program by filling the empty seats he had during his rides home over school breaks: “I was driving from Upstate New York to New York City and all around me were these empty seats.” As a student at Cornell, Zimmer took a City and Regional Planning Class, called Green Cities (taught by Dr. Robert Young, now at the University of Texas at Austin). The class discussed the principles of simple design changes to large infrastructure, which would later influence the development of Zimride. He states, "If you look back at other forms of transportation … there’s always that idea of networks and the idea of routes. We feel that this is the natural way to move toward a ubiquitous form of transportation." Noting that 80% of the seats on American highways are empty, Zimmer says that ridesharing, "is a huge opportunity to create efficiency to save a lot of money and to reduce our environmental footprint."
Zimmer and Green were introduced through a mutual friend on Facebook. Green had posted details about his new company called “Zimride,” which interested Zimmer, who had been keeping a journal about carpooling ideas.
Co-founding of Zimride
Within a week of being introduced, Green flew out to New York City to meet with Zimmer. Zimride launched the first version of its rideshare program at Cornell University where, after six months, the service had signed up 20% of the student body. Later in 2007, Zimride was active on both the Cornell and UCSB campuses. Green and Zimmer promoted the service through guerilla marketing campaigns; in particular, the pair would dress in frog suits and hand out flyers to students on the Cornell campus. Later, while on a Lehman Brothers recruiting trip, Zimmer was recognized by a potential recruit, who asked "I swear I recognize you—were you in a frog suit on Saturday on campus?"
Zimmer quit his job at Lehman Brothers to work with Green full-time on Zimride. When asked why he quit, Zimmer said, "The feelings I had about what I wanted to do and what was important to me didn’t match up with the culture in Wall Street. There was a focus on money, there was a focus on what people were wearing, and things that didn’t seem to lead to productivity."
Green and Zimmer focused the service on carpooling between connected users and making carpooling fun and interesting. As of April 2012, Lyft (previously Zimride) has raised $7.5 million in funding, has facilitated more than 26,000 carpools, has helped users travel over 100 million miles, employs 29, and has created over $50 million in savings in vehicle operating expenses. The service is active at over 125 universities including USC, University of Minnesota, UCLA, UCSF, University of San Francisco, Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Michigan.
Zimmer was inspired to focus on transportation when he took a City and Regional Planning Class at Cornell, called “Green Cities” (taught by Dr. Robert Young, now at the University of Texas at Austin). The class discussed the principles of simple design changes to large infrastructure, and later influenced the development of Zimride and Lyft. Zimmer wanted to develop a rideshare program by filling the empty seats he had during his rides home over school breaks: “I was driving from Upstate New York to New York City and all around me were these empty seats.” Noting that 80% of the seats on American highways are empty, Zimmer says that ridesharing "is a huge opportunity to create efficiency to save a lot of money and to reduce our environmental footprint."
Lyft was launched in the summer of 2012 as a service of Zimride. The change from Zimride to Lyft was the result of a hackathon that sought a means of daily engagement with its users, instead of once or twice a year. In May 2013, Zimmer and Green officially changed the name of the company from Zimride to Lyft.
In June 2013, Lyft completed a $60 million Series C venture financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz, bringing its total amount raised to $83 million. In July 2013, Lyft sold Zimride to Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, enabling the company to focus exclusively on the growth of Lyft. In April 2014, Lyft completed a $250 million Series D financing round led by Coatue, Alibaba, and Andreesen Horowitz, bringing its total amount raised to $332.5 million. In January 2016, Lyft announced that they had closed a 1 billion Series F financing round led by GM, which contributed $500 million of the total, bringing its total amount raised to date to $2.01 billion.
In August 2014, Lyft introduced Lyft Line, a ridesharing product that utilizes its existing driver network to transport passengers going the same direction at the same time. To incentivize riding together, Lyft Line offers passengers discounted costs. This feature harkens back to Zimmer and Green’s original goal for Zimride.
In 2014, Zimmer was named in Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Technology” list, and both he and Green were named in Inc. Magazine’s “35 Under 35” list.
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- 2009 Finalists: America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs Business Week.