Ride sharing startup Lyft hit a big milestone yesterday,* reaching its one millionth completed ride about a year after opening to the public. The company also continues to expand into new markets, launching most recently in Washington, D.C.
The 1-million-completed-ride milestone comes as Lyft has been expanding quickly into new markets. In fact, the number of rides has doubled in just the last three months, as the company has added new cities and grown its existing markets. With that in mind, Lyft keeps adding new cities.
The latest is Washington, D.C., as the ride sharing service became available to friends and family in the nation’s capital last weekend. (It’ll be launching to the public this week.) D.C. is the seventh market for Lyft in the U.S., following launches in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and San Diego.
The new market was launched a week after Lyft, SideCar, and Uber received a big victory in California, where the local regulator issued a proposed set of regulations that would legitimize certain new transportation services provided by unlicensed drivers. The new regulations came out after a year of negotiations between the California Public Utilities Commission and the new transportation startups.
But how local regulators will react to Lyft’s launch in D.C. isn’t clear. It took a long time for Uber to get on the right side of the D.C. city council, and the local taxi commission seems to be still looking for ways to keep that company out of town. Still, Uber was able to reach a deal with the city and create regulations that enable its service to continue operating in the capital.
While those rules did make e-hailing a taxi or black car legal in D.C., there are no provisions for the kind of ride sharing service that Lyft operates. In fact, the D.C. city council regulations requires all drivers to be licensed, which, of course, Lyft drivers aren’t.
Lyft president John Zimmer said that the company has been talking to local officials in D.C., and that “conversations are ongoing.” The hope is that D.C. — and for that matter, any city that Lyft seeks to launch in — will look at the proposed regulations put forth in California and consider adopting them, or at least, build a similar framework.
That’ll be important, as Lyft plans to keep adding new cities. Next stop is Minneapolis, where the local press noticed that Lyft was hiring drivers and believes it could face some regulatory scrutiny there. And the company plans to launch in another two markets in the two or three weeks after that, according to Zimmer, putting it in 10 cities by September.
With that in mind, the company is growing fast. It just reached 100 employees, and is adding about five to 10 new full-timers each week. That growth comes after it raised $60 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and also pocketed some cash from the sale of its legacy Zimride assets. With capital in hand, the company plans to accelerate its growth with lots of new hires and new cities over the coming months.
* Full disclosure: I just happened to be in the Lyft office when the company hit its millionth ride. We had scheduled a time to catch up and I was planning on just chatting about the D.C. launch, but the company had a ticker counting down the number of rides in the front of the office and it was at 999,900 when I walked in. Kind of a coincidence, but it was a pretty crazy thing to witness.