Lyft’s Founders: Ride Share Regulation A ‘Changing Tide’ – In Their Favor

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green discussed the regulatory scrap they deal with when expanding to new cities, stating that despite headwind, there is a “changing tide” in attitudes regarding the ride-share model.

That’s good news for Lyft and its chief competitor Uber, which have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to build their businesses.

Zimmer and Green explained that they sat with regulators earlier in Lyft’s life, asking what specific concerns they had. They were often security focused, unsurprisingly. The two pointed out that in California, black-car drivers are not required to pass a background check. Lyft drivers, however, must.

TechCrunch writer and discussion moderator Ryan Lawler asked if there are other concerns than safety, that perhaps monied interests are striving to keep the status quo in place, in opposition to services such as Lyft. It’s worth noting that this is fact, not conjecture.

The Lyft duo claimed that to combat that sort of issue, the best solution was a bright light on the market inefficiencies that decades of regulation and lobbying had created – a sort of regulatory hangover, if you will. The taxi industry, they stated, has to deal with “unfair burdens.” Ironically, this could lead to some taxi drivers benefiting from Lyft’s work if it led to their enjoying less strident regulation of their industry.

However, Lyft doesn’t see itself killing taxis, but claims — and I say this slightly head-cocked — that the market isn’t a zero-sum game. That’s probably true to an extent, but is far too modest a claim for the quickly growing firm.

It’s worth keeping in mind the massive work that Uber has done for Lyft, blazing much of the trail that Lyft now benefits from. Lyft has its own battles, certainly, but its victories come often at least partially on the back of the one that came before it.

Finally, the pair stated that community outreach to regulators has an impact: When Lyft calls out to its riders and drivers to make themselves heard, they can change the discussion regarding policy. As long as that remains true, I don’t see Lyft tapping the brakes.

The company declined to disclose how quickly it will grow in 2013. Lyft currently operates in 10 cities.

Backstage Interview

Top Image Credit: Alfredo Mendez