Friday Roundup: Lyft takes over SXSW

Fresh off a new round of funding, Lyft had a lot of good news this week in the aftermath of #Lyftgate.  Personally, I was pretty disappointed with the way Lyft handled the whole #Lyftgate situation and I know there are a lot of drivers/riders who will never feel the same about them.  There are a couple lawsuits forming right now but we’ll have to see how those play out.  I’m pretty cynical when it comes to getting lawyers involved in matters.

Either way, it appears as if a majority of drivers who participated in the Lyft $1,000 new driver promotion were paid out at least part of what they earned.  There were a few stories in the media about it but this week, Lyft seemed to dominate the headlines with other news:

Lyft Has Raised $530 Million In Series E Funding Led By Rakuten, Is Now Valued At $2.5 Billion

I think Lyft has actually over-achieved in its battle with Uber.  When you compare the two using metrics like valuation, Lyft is actually 16 times smaller ($40 bn/$2.5 bn) than Uber yet they’re mentioned all the time when Uber comparisons pop up.  $2.5 billion is nothing to scoff at either.  Some people, including me have questioned whether Lyft might go away but in the end, remember that competition is a good thing for drivers and passengers.  Imagine what an unchecked Uber could do.

Uber Out At SXSW: Banned From Airport Pickups As Lyft Strikes Deal With City

This was the most surprising news of the week with Lyft actually beating out Uber on two fronts: SXSW and Austin airport pick-ups.  Not only will Lyft be the official rideshare partner of SXSW but they will also be the only company allowed to legally pick people up from the Austin airport.

Lyft will have to pay 10% of the company’s sales at the airport during the festival to the city but that’s a small price to pay to be able to market to thousands of techies and industry experts who descend upon SXSW every year.  The one takeaway from this story: money talks.

How Lyft’s CEO Plans to Overtake Uber in the Ride-Sharing Race

For those who don’t know, Lyft and Sidecar used to be king of the peer to peer rideshare model back in the day in San Francisco.  Uber started off as a black car service and when they launched UberX, they catapulted into the lead.  You don’t get a second chance in business and personally, I don’t think Lyft will ever come close to Uber again.  But I do think it’s important that Lyft remains relevant.

Juries To Decide Landmark Cases Against Uber and Lyft

There are a lot of lawsuits surrounding Uber and Lyft these days and most are without merit.  I felt the same way about this one because I just couldn’t imagine predicating a billion dollar industry on this model if they weren’t sure as hell that it would hold up in court.  But it looks like now, both lawsuits (against Uber and Lyft) are headed to trial and will be decided by a jury.  I’ve been following these two trials closely and all I can say is that if I were Uber/Lyft, I’d be worried.

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs in both cases, Shannon Liss-Riordan is a superstar and just listening to her, you can tell she really knows her stuff.  She’s been the most impressive so far and she also won a huge IC mis-classification case against FedEx recently.  Ultimately, I think Uber and Lyft have really brought this lawsuit upon themselves by squeezing drivers and forcing them to seek more protection under the law.

Uber Pledges To Create 1 Million Jobs For Women In 5 Years

This headline sounds great but saying and doing are two totally different things.  Lyft has clearly made an active attempt to hire more women and its worked, Uber not so much.

What It’s Like To Order An Uber From Your Apple Watch

I’m not really an Apple fan (except for my MBP) but a lot of people are amped up about the new Apple watch.  I couldn’t care less but at least you can order an Uber through it.

5 Ways the Sharing Economy Can Regain Our Trust

A lot of sharing economy companies are founded on great principles but once you start involving investors who demand a return it’s often the people at the bottom (like drivers) who get squeezed the most.  I think there’s plenty of room for everyone to profit in a business like this and that’s why I’ll probably never make a good CEO.  I care just as much about the people at the bottom as the people at the top.

The Sharing Economy’s New Middlemen

We’re seeing a huge emergence of middlemen to support on demand economy workers and I’m glad to be considered one of them.

Drivers, what did you think of the top news stories this week?  Do you think Lyft will be making good use of that $530 million they just got?

-Harry @ RSG