Lyft Is Going to Make Car Ownership Unnecessary

Lyft may be the smaller, pink-mustache version of Uber, but that’s not stopping Logan Green, cofounder and CEO, from making bold moves and bolder statements onstage at SxSW. As the featured speaker, and with his keynote presentation “Fixing Transportation with Humanity and Technology,” Green has set up Lyft to make a splash here at SxSW. The company is also a featured sponsor of the SxSW event and the service integrated into the SxSW app. So even though Lyft seems to have bought its way into a keynote session, it doesn’t discount the fact that transportation is rapidly changing and Green is a catalyst for that change.

In Green’s mind, Lyft isn’t just a different type of taxi service; it’s your personal chauffeur. Stating that he eventually wants to “make car ownership unnecessary” may sound ridiculous for some who live in more rural areas, but for those of us who live in big cities like New York or Los Angeles, where transportation is a gridlocked mess, not owning a car isn’t a pipe dream. It’s solving a problem, a need for efficiency in transportation. He’s essentially rebuilding the public transit system.

Green went on to say that Lyft’s drivers are the core component to their growth. Each driver goes through background checks, a vehicle inspection and an in-person interview. When they started Lyft, Green himself would meet the drivers, but that wasn’t very scalable, so they implemented a mentorship program in which the top 20% of Lyft drivers get paid to mentor new drivers, essentially eliminating the need for Lyft to staff trainers in every city. “It even builds a stronger community among the drivers,” said Green.

The most striking information that Green dropped was regarding Lyft’s growth and where they are spending their gobs of investor money: “We are investing in building cell towers, which are incredibly expensive. The idea is that we can make it easier for more drivers to connect with customers in places not possible before.” This will help with scale, as 10 drivers in a city means you’re waiting 10 to 15 minutes for a car. But if Lyft can get to 100 drivers in a city or area, that drops the wait time to one to two minutes, reinforcing the idea that this could be your main source of transportation. Making the rides cheaper is another goal of Green’s: “Every dollar we knock off, we immediately reach a new market that couldn’t afford to try it before.”

Overall Green came across as very open and charismatic, and essentially not worried about the much larger Uber or the growing list of competitors in foreign markets. He’s not too worried about the prospect of self-driving cars killing his business either, stating that we are not too far away from assisted driving (where you can have your hands off the wheel but still be able to take back control), but we’re still quite a long way from true self-driving cars. “We’ll need to see radical reinventing of cities’ infrastructure,” he said, before we can truly leave the driving to a computer.

Personally, I’ve never used Lyft, but I think that after listening to Green, I am willing to give it more serious thought. I still wish they would get rid of those pink mustaches, though. I don’t much care to get into a car with that on the hood. By the way, if you live in San Francisco, Green is also a registered driver and apparently picks people up using Lyft on his way to work. So next time you take a Lyft there, make sure you’re not being driven by the owner of the company.

New Media Director @WundermanLA

Originally published on Wunderman Reports