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Lyft takes over SXSW to prove it's nothing like Uber

Caitlin McGarry | March 19, 2015
Lyft CEO Logan Green on Uber's struggles, Lyft Line, and the future of ride-sharing apps.

Wampler said a high percentage of Lyft employees are drivers, too, including CEO Logan Green.

"If we want every car on the road to be a Lyft, we need to make it incredibly convenient for drivers," Green said during his keynote. "The other day I picked somebody up and made $20 on my way into work. Every dollar counts."

Carpooling into the future

Lyft got its start as a Web 1.0 carpooling service called Zimride, which was essentially a digital bulletin board for college students to share rides. The company went back to its roots when six months ago it launched Lyft Line, a feature that lets you share Lyfts with people heading the same way.

Uber announced a similar feature the same day, but the company is known more for its black-car service. Logan pointed to Uber's early motto, "Everyone's Private Driver," as a symbol of the difference between the two services.

"Most of the population cannot afford a private driver," he said. "We're relentlessly innovating to bring the price point down."

Lyft prices Line rides to be competitive with public transportation options.

Lyft has hesitated to expand internationally while Uber is jumping headlong into the global transportation market in part because it doesn't want to change its premise to compete with local services.

"We're looking to add something unique to the market," Green said. "When we do go international, it won't be as a taxi service. It'll be bringing the pieces that are most unique to Lyft to the rest of the world."

Green said Lyft is "learning a lot right now" watching Uber struggle to assert itself in other countries, and said he doesn't think Uber's current strategy is working. It's unclear if Lyft has a strategy in place to expand internationally or when it plans to start that process, but for now the company is focused on making Lyft Line as popular in other U.S. cities as it is in San Francisco. With a fresh $530 million in funding, the company is well on its way.

 

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