Lyft launched an aggressive marketing campaign in Spring that seems to be paying off. The rideshare company says it delivered 17 million rides this month (so far), more than 2.4x’s the amount the company did at the same time last year.
Data from research firm 7Park also shows Lyft gaining in U.S. market share on Uber year over year in major metropolitan areas where Uber has dominated since 2014.
It’s still just a drop in the bucket when compared to its rival, though. Uber has the lion’s share of the U.S. market at 5 million rides per day — and that’s just a fraction of Chinese counterpart Didi Chuxing, which claims 20 million rides per day.
But it’s a nod to the rocket ship of growth Lyft has set itself up for. The company took in $1 billion in funding last December — half coming from its buddy in business General Motors — and Lyft’s John Zimmer said on stage at the Wall Street Journal Live conference it’s enough to at least “break even” on its bold plan for the future.
Lyft and GM have been very cozy since the start of the investment relationship, intertwining business offerings across both platforms and there has been some speculation GM might have offered to buy Lyft. Lyft confirmed it hired boutique investment firm Qatalyst but reportedly declined GM’s acquisition offer.
However, Zimmer denied Lyft was for sale in the past or was for sale now but did admit there was an offer on the table and that was the impetus for hiring Qatalyst. “We have a fiduciary duty to take in-bound inquiries seriously,” he said.
Zimmer teased there would be more branding changes in the near future, including possibly getting rid of the famous bright pink mustache, though he wouldn’t nail down exactly what we could expect there.
He also mentioned Lyft will get to China soon enough but says the Didi crossover deal is still in place so riders there can use the Didi app to hail a ride from Lyft. Zimmer says the API isn’t live yet for U.S. riders but added it will be soon, which could potentially pose a data-sharing issue with a company that has now invested in its biggest competition.
Zimmer brushed the data issue off and said Lyft has rules in place to limit the kind of data Didi will have access to.
Zimmer also seems pretty confident about Lyft’s near future use of autonomous vehicles and said you can expect to see the majority of Lyft cars without a steering wheel in the next five years.
That conviction is likely fueled by Lyft’s cozy relationship with GM, which is working on self-driving technology and purchased automated driving tech startup Cruise earlier this year. But also the need to cut costs (and worker wages) out of the equation to maximize profit.
But don’t expect to see this company go public anytime soon. Zimmer’s company is a mere four years old and growing like mad. And, as Zimmer pointed out, Lyft gets offered capital every few months.
Though he didn’t think he’d need to raise funds again before any IPO happened, he didn’t rule out the possibility. “Never say never,” he said.