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Lyft, Inc.
IndustryTransportation networking
FoundedJune 9, 2012; 6 years ago (2012-06-09) (as Zimride)
FoundersLogan Green, CEO
John Zimmer, President
Headquarters185 Berry St. #5000, ,
Area served
United States, Canada
ServicesReal-time ridesharing, Taxicab, Vehicle for hire
RevenueIncrease US$ 2.2 billion (2018)[1]
Decrease US$ -991 million (2018)[1]

Lyft is a transportation network company primarily providing ride-hailing services and based in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets, and operates the Lyft car transportation mobile app.[2][3][4] Launched in June 2012, Lyft operates in approximately 300 U.S. cities,[5] including New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles[6] and provides over 1 million rides per day.[7] The company was valued at US$15.1 billion as of June 2018 and has raised a total of US$5.1 billion in funding.[8] Lyft expanded into Canada (specifically serving Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa) in December 2017 as a competitor to the already established Uber.[9]

As of late 2018, Lyft was the number two ride-hailing company with a 28 percent market share in the United States, according to the Second Measure research company.[10]


Riders must download the Lyft mobile app to their iOS or Android-based phone, sign up, enter a valid phone number, and enter a valid form of payment (either a credit card, or link to an Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or PayPal account).[11] Passengers can then request a ride from a nearby driver. Once confirmed, the app shows the driver's name, ratings by past passengers, and photos of the driver and car.[12] Drivers and passengers can add personal information to their profiles about their hometown, music preferences, and other details to encourage drivers and passengers to converse during the ride.[13] After the ride is over, the rider is given the opportunity to provide a gratuity to the driver, which is also billed to the rider's payment method.[14]

Lyft offers five types of rides within the app:[15]

  • Shared Ride, which is not available in all cities, is the cheapest option and will match passengers with other riders if they are going in the same direction.[16]
  • Lyft is the basic and most popular offering that matches passengers with nearby drivers.
  • Lyft XL matches passengers with a vehicle that can seat at least 6 passengers.[17]
  • Lux matches passengers with a luxury vehicle that seats at least 4 passengers.[18]
  • Lux Black matches passengers with a luxury black exterior vehicle ride that seats at least four passengers.[19]
  • Lux Black XL matches passengers with a black exterior luxury car that seats up to 6. (i.e.: SUVs with highly rated drivers).


One tenet of Lyft's platform is establishing trust among its users.[20] All drivers undergo the following screening processes:


In 2017 Lyft received a 5/5 government surveillance privacy rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[22]


After a ride is completed, drivers and passengers are given the opportunity to rate each other on a scale of one to five stars.[23] Any driver averaging a low rating by users is dropped from the service.[21] Lyft does not allow passengers to know their rating.[24]


Although Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors, Lyft also insures each driver with a US$1 million commercial liability policy that is primary to a driver’s personal policy. Additional coverage includes:[25]

  • Contingent comprehensive and collision coverage up to $50,000 with a $2,500 deductible. (Applies from the time a driver accepts a ride request until the time the ride is ended in the app.)
  • Contingent liability coverage up to $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident/$25,000 property damage. (Applies from the time when a driver flips into driver mode until the driver accepts a ride request.)
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage up to $1 million. (Applies from the time a driver accepts a ride request in the app until the time the ride is ended in the app.)

Other services[edit]

In March 2018, Lyft announced that it was teaming up with electronic health records company Allscripts to create a platform allowing healthcare providers to arrange rides for patients who lack transportation to appointments.[26] This new deal would be available to 2,500 hospitals, 180,000 physicians, and approximately 7 million patients.


A Lyft vehicle in Santa Monica, California, with the original grill-stache branding, since retired


Lyft was launched in the summer of 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer as a service of Zimride, a long-distance ridesharing company the two founded in 2007.[27] Zimride focused on ridesharing for longer trips, often between cities,[28] and linked drivers and passengers through the Facebook Connect application.[29] Zimride eventually became the largest rideshare program in the US.[30][31]

Green had the inspiration for Zimride after sharing rides from the University of California, Santa Barbara campus to visit his girlfriend in Los Angeles.[32] He had used Craigslist’s ride boards but wanted to eliminate the anxiety of not knowing the passenger or driver.[32] When Facebook opened its API to third-party developers, Green said he thought "Here’s the missing ingredient."[32] Green was introduced to John Zimmer through a mutual friend and the pair initially met on Facebook.[33] The company name comes from the country Zimbabwe, where, during a trip in 2005, Green observed locals sharing minivan taxis.[34][33] He said, "I came back to the US inspired to create that same form of transportation here."[35] Green had coding experience and was able to develop the site in four months.[34][36] Zimride launched the first version of the rideshare program at Cornell University, where, after six months, the service had signed up 20% of the campus.[37][38] By using Facebook profile information, student drivers and passengers could learn about each other.[39]

In May 2013, the company officially changed its name from Zimride to Lyft.[40] 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.[41]

Transition to Lyft

Whereas Zimride was focused on college campuses, Lyft launched as an on-demand ridesharing network for shorter trips within cities.[39] Similar to Zimride, the app connects drivers with cars to passengers that need rides. Drivers and passengers rate each other on a five-star scale after each ride,[20] and the ratings establish the reputations of both drivers and passengers within the network.[20] In order to take advantage of the Lyft system, clients must set up an account that links directly to a funding source such as a debit card or PayPal account.[42] Once the ride is completed, funds are debited from the funding source.[43] Lyft then retains 20% from drivers who applied before January 2016 and 25% from those who applied starting January 2016 as a commission.[44]

As a brand, Lyft became known for the large pink furry mustaches drivers attached to the front of their cars.[45] Riders were also encouraged to sit in the front seat and fist bump with drivers upon meeting.[46] In January 2015, Lyft introduced a small, glowing plastic dashboard mustache it called a "glowstache" as an alternative to the large fuzzy mustaches on the front of cars.[47] The transition was to help overcome the resistance of some riders to arrive at destinations, such as business meetings, in a car with a giant mustache.[47] In December 2016, Lyft introduced a new color-changing dashboard indicator called "Amp."[48]

In April 2014, Lyft launched in 24 new U.S. cities in 24 hours, bringing its total to 60 U.S. cities.[49] In August 2014, the company introduced Lyft Line, allowing passengers to split fare on shared rides.[50]

Due to regulatory hurdles in New York City, the company decided to significantly alter its business model to establish Lyft on the East Coast. Lyft’s launch in New York City occurred on the evening of July 25, 2014 and, in accordance with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and the approval of the Manhattan Supreme Court, only drivers registered with the TLC were permitted to drive Lyft-branded vehicles in New York City.[51]

In May 2016, Lyft began offering a service to let clients schedule rides up to 24-hours in advance.[52] Also in the summer of 2016, Lyft started to offer riders the ability to make multiple stops during a trip.

In January 2017, Lyft announced it would add 100 U.S. cities, bringing its total to 300 U.S. cities served.[5]

In July 2017, the company announced that the forthcoming Walt Disney World Resort "Minnie Van" service will be powered by Lyft. Users staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels are given the option to hail a "Minnie Van" via the Lyft app. A Minnie Van, a Chevrolet Traverse with Minnie Mouse inspired exterior theming, driven by a Walt Disney World Cast Member can take guests to and from any destination within the Walt Disney World Resort for a flat fee of $20 per ride (at launch). Lyft Founder John Zimmer said of the partnership "Playing a part in a family’s experience at the most magical place on earth is a dream come true."[53]

Lyft announced to add 28,000 Citi Bikes and expand its service in November 2018.[54]


Lyft is valued at US$15.1 billion, as of summer 2018.[8] Prior to January 2016, Lyft had raised more than US$2 billion from investors such as General Motors (US$500M), Alibaba, Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue Management, DiDi, fbFund, Floodgate, Fontinalis Group, Fortress, Founders Fund, GSV Capital, Icahn Enterprises, Janus Capital Management, K9 Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Holdings Company, Rakuten, Tencent, and Third Point Ventures.[55][56][57][58][55][59][60]

Financing history[edit]

In May 2013, Lyft completed a US$60 million Series C venture financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz and including Founders Fund, Mayfield Fund, K9 Ventures, and Floodgate Fund.[61][62]

In July 2013, Lyft sold Zimride to Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, to enable the company to focus exclusively on the growth of Lyft.[63]

In April 2014, Lyft completed a $250 million Series D financing round led by Coatue Management, Alibaba Group, and Andreessen Horowitz, bringing its total amount raised to $332.5 million.[55] In March 2015, the company received a $530 million investment from a group led by Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc. In May 2015, Lyft received an additional $150 million in investment, including a $100 million investment from Carl Icahn based on a valuation of $2.5 billion, which brought the total raised to over $1 billion.[64][65]

On January 4, 2016, Lyft announced a partnership with U.S. automaker General Motors, which invested $500 million as part of a $1 billion fundraising effort. The partnership is designed to help both companies accelerate in the ride-sharing market, as well as the autonomous car arena.[66] In conjunction with GM's investment, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia also made an investment in Lyft which included the purchase of $148 million worth of existing stock from Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund.[67]

In April 2017, Lyft raised $600 million in funding from KKR at a $7.5 billion post-money valuation.[68][69]

On June 6, 2017, Lyft announced a new partnership with Boston-based autonomous self-driving car start-up NuTonomy with the aim of eventually putting thousands of autonomous, on-demand vehicles on the road.[70]

In October 2017, it was announced that Alphabet Inc. took a $1 billion stake in Lyft via their investment arm, CapitalG.[71] On December 2017 Lyft has announced that it has added another $500 million to the funding round with participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company as well as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund.[72]

In June 2018, Lyft said that it has raised an additional $600 million primarily from existing investors, valuing the company at $15.1 billion.[8]

In February 2019 Lyft announced its intention to list shares on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "LYFT". The listing is expected at the end of March.[73] According to the official document required by the Securities and Exchange Commission Lyft recorded $911 million of net losses.[74] J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Jefferies were selected to underwrite the initial public offering.[75] The company has set aside some shares to be given to drivers who may receive them at the IPO price in lieu of a cash bonus.[76]

The company's IPO values Lyft at up to $23 billion based on the price range provided in SEC filings. Lyft's IPO is expected to be followed by several other technology companies, including rival Uber.[77]

Regulatory opposition and momentum[edit]

Lyft’s distinctive pink mustache was the first branding the company used until 2015 when it switched to a smaller, glowing magenta mustache that sits on a driver's dashboard.

In the fall of 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a cease and desist letter to Lyft (along with Uber and Sidecar) and fined each $20,000.[78] Wingz also received a cease and desist letter.[79] However, in 2013 an interim agreement was reached that reversed those actions. In June 2013, Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar were served with cease and desist letters by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.[80] In September 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to make the agreement permanent, and created a new category of service called Transportation Network Companies, making California the first state to recognize and regulate such services.[81]

The Washington, D.C. City Council passed emergency legislation in September 2013 to allow ridesharing platforms like Lyft to operate.[82]

The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance in March 2014 that capped Lyft drivers on the road at any given time to 150. As that failed to function with Lyft's model, the company supported a coalition that submitted a referendum containing 36,000 signatures from residents that called for the ordinance to be appealed.[83] Following the signatures, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray worked with Lyft to reach a deal in July 2014 that legalized ridesharing in Seattle.

In the spring of 2014, Lyft hired two lobbying firms, TwinLogic Strategies and Jochum Shore & Trossevin, to address the regulatory barriers and opposition it had received since its launch.[84]

In May 2014, Lyft signed a temporary operating agreement with the city of Detroit that allows operation under a specific set of rules for two years or until new regulations are developed.[85]

In June 2014, Colorado became the first state to pass rules for TNCs through the legislative process, when S 125 was signed into law.[86]

In July 2014, the Minneapolis City Council voted almost unanimously to legalize Lyft and other Transportation Network Companies.[87]

In September 2015, Lyft announced a relocation of their customer service operations to Nashville and mentioned that a full relocation would be possible in the future from San Francisco.[88]

In December 2015, Lyft became the first ride-hailing service allowed to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport.[89]

Other cities and states such as Austin,[90] Nashville,[91] Tulsa[92] and Illinois[93] have passed laws to regulate or outlaw Lyft and other TNCs.

On May 18 after passing of HB 100 by the Texas House and Senate, Lyft announced their planned return to Austin and began communicating with former riders in anticipation[94]

Lyft, like other ride-sharing services, has been criticized by government officials for operating what they consider to be unlicensed taxi services. For example, upon expansion into Virginia in April 2014, the Virginia Department of Transportation levied a $9,000 civil penalty against Lyft for failure to register as a transportation broker. Virginia DoT had previously communicated with the company and informed it that it had to register in order to provide services inside the Commonwealth. In August, state officials reversed their ruling and allowed Lyft to operate in Virginia.[95]

In 2016, Lyft offered promotions to attract public transit customers affected by transit service disruptions. During Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's SafeTrack construction Lyft offered deep discounts in the areas impacted,[96] and after Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ended late night service Lyft discounted trips during the overnight times impacted.[97]

In November 2018, Lyft settled a class action suit filed in 2014 alleging that they had sent large numbers of unwanted commercial text messages.[98] In addition to $4 million in payments to consumers, the plaintiffs sought $1 million in legal fees.[99]

Self-driving car research[edit]

As early as 2012, Green wanted to pitch investors on self-driving cars as part of Lyft's future offering. Green envisioned a few big networks of self-driving cars, similar to AT&T and Verizon.[100] On May 5, 2016, Lyft and General Motors announced, as part of their partnership, that they planned to begin testing self-driving cars within the next year. They were considering using a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt for this purpose.[101] In September 2017, Lyft announced a partnership with Ford Motor to develop and test autonomous vehicles.[102] In March 2018, Lyft announced a partnership with the autonomous vehicle testing site GoMentum Station to test its self-driving technology, furthering the company's efforts toward making transportation safer and more accessible.[103] On March 14, 2018, Lyft partnered with the largest auto part suppliers in North America, Magna, with the motive to co-fund, develop, and manufacture autonomous vehicle systems which will help to produce self-driving technology that will be available to all car manufacturers.[104]

By August 2018, Lyft completed 5,000 rides using driverless cars in Las Vegas.[105]

On 23 October 2018, Lyft acquired Blue Vision Labs, a London-based augmented reality startup, for an initial $72 million. This expertise is expected to help autonomous cars to extract useful information from street-level images.[106]


Lyft has made a major push into rented electric scooters. The word "scooter" is mentioned 159 times in the company's IPO offering document.[107]

Financial results[edit]

As a privately held enterprise, Lyft does not publish detailed financial statements.[108] On March 1, 2019 Lyft filed an S-1 for an IPO. In 2018, Lyft lost $911.3 million.[109]

In 2014, the company said it had grown ride numbers and revenue fivefold.[110] In January 2017 the company announced it facilitated 160 million rides combined in all cities where it operates.[111]

According to Bloomberg L.P., Lyft lost $600 million in 2016 while increasing its revenue 250% for the year. With $1 billion in cash reserves, it predicts profitability in 2018.[108]


Lyft faces competition from: Fasten, Haxi, Uber, Via, and other car service startups. Lyft's global alliance includes China's DiDi, India's Ola Cabs, and Southeast Asia's Grab and GO-JEK.

In addition to other ride-sharing services, Lyft faces competition from bike-sharing services, peer-to-peer car services, electric scooters and other methods of transportation.[112] In an effort to provide more transportation options, Lyft bought the bike-sharing company Motivate in July 2018.[113]

Lyft launched a fleet of electric scooters in Denver on September 06, 2018.[114] As of December 2018, Lyft has launched additional scooter fleets in Arlington, Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Monica and Washington D.C. Lyft scooters cost riders USD$1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to ride.[115]


In 2013, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proclaimed July 13 as Lyft Day.[116]

Beyond its fundraising and user adoption numbers, investors and commentators have praised Lyft's sense of "community". In May 2013, Scott Weiss of Andreessen Horowitz said the venture capital firm ultimately decided to invest in Lyft because of its strong community and transparency. He wrote in his blog, "Lyft is a real community—with both the drivers and riders being inherently social—making real friendships and saving money."[117]

In September 2012, Drew Olanoff of TechCrunch wrote, "You feel like you're in the car with a friend, and that's no mistake...Whether it's bringing someone a sandwich for the ride or letting them choose the music in the car, Lyft drivers have their own budding community growing."[118] In May 2013, Jessica Gelt wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "Lyft's marketing strategy, which is geared toward the young and technologically savvy, draws a relaxed and friendly demographic."[119] Others have protested the impact of Lyft and its competitors on the taxicab industry.[120]


Lyft acquired station-based bicycle sharing operator Motivate in July 2018.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


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