Uber’s revenue numbers, which were leaked to Gawker just a few weeks ago, look bold at roughly $20 million per week.
But there isn’t necessarily a definitive market winner yet in the peer-to-peer space, as the entire field is on a rising tide. Lyft, which started peer-to-peer ride-sharing after Uber’s black cars on demand, is seeing its revenues grow at a rate of about 6 percent every single week, according to raw data and revenue dashboards that Lyft co-founder John Zimmer shared exclusively with TechCrunch.
That growth rate is more than double Uber’s growth pace, which averaged about 2.8 percent in the five weeks of data leaked to Gawker. Compounded over a year, Lyft is seeing 20X growth.
“I think there will be a black car winner at the high end and a peer-to-peer winner at the affordable price point for the mass market,” Zimmer said. “Lyft is already the leader in peer-to-peer, which is the fastest growing on-demand transportation segment.”
You could argue that because Lyft is growing from a smaller revenue base, its growth rate would naturally be higher. But Lyft says it is already doing one-third of the weekly ride volume Uber was doing across all of its product lines when they raised their last round at a $3.5 billion valuation (if you back out Uber’s leaked numbers to June 2013).
Zimmer’s data and revenue dashboards last week revealed a more than $100 million gross run rate.
Uber, for its part, says that growth rates vary drastically in different seasons, with the summers being slower than the holiday season. November, in particular, is a weaker month so they argue you can’t extrapolate growth rates back. (That said, Lyft shared revenue dashboards for the same time period.)
“I’d love to tell you how much bigger we are than them, but I can’t do that,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. “We’re the leader right now, but we take competition seriously. We don’t dismiss it.”
We estimated Uber’s gross revenue run rate at $1 billion from the leaked Gawker dashboard. That is 10X Lyft’s size and Uber said many of the cities it serves on its own have already passed the $100 million gross revenue mark. Kalanick adds that the company has also seen 20 percent month-over-month growth in the last two months, despite growing from a larger revenue base.
But they don’t just do peer-to-peer ride sharing. They have multiple product lines covering black cars, taxis, peer-to-peer ride-sharing and SUVs. Uber is also international, covering 66 cities in 24 countries, compared to Lyft’s U.S.-based 20 markets. (Lyft also doesn’t do 7X surge pricing.)
Then there is a slew host of other companies competing to offer on-demand transportation from your phone like Sidecar, Hailo, Gett, and China’s Didi Dache.
But these competitors are generally much smaller than Lyft and Uber, which are fighting for peer-to-peer in the U.S. market. It’s not clear from Uber’s leaked numbers how big their peer-to-peer business is compared to the original black car or taxi business lines. Kalanick declined to break this out, but he said black car fares are generally only 1.8 times higher than the peer-to-peer fares.
The competition between the two companies has become increasingly cutthroat, with Uber resorting to aggressive campaigns to undercut Lyft’s supply of drivers. They’ve offered $50 gas vouchers to recruit Lyft drivers and have run advertising campaigns urging drivers to “Shave The Stache.”
Kalanick defended these tactics, “It’s important for us to have as much supply as possible. When you’re small, you don’t need that many drivers to make it work. But when you’re big, you’re talking about taking in thousands, if not tens of thousands of drivers. It’s important that if there are good drivers out there, they know they have options.”
Amid Uber’s more competitive tactics, Lyft has stayed focused on growing its core community of drivers and users without poaching from rivals.
“By focusing on community, we’re able to attract the highest quality drivers. It makes sense that our competitors would try to recruit them as they try to catch up in peer-to-peer, but we’re not seeing an impact on our loyal driver base or our ride growth numbers.” said Zimmer, who added that the “Shave the Stache” campaign actually ended up educating more prospective passengers and drivers about Lyft.