According to analysts, one of the factors for the success of Lyft’s initial public offering (IPO) at the stock exchange has been the “nice guy” image of the company compared to its bigger rivals Uber. The company has always attempt to portray itself as a company that cares more for its drivers, riders and the environment than Uber does.
“In the early days, people misunderstood, ‘Oh you guys are the nice guys. You guys are going to get crushed by a more competitive player,” Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer told Reuters in an interview.
“We said, ‘No, we’re very competitive but treating our employees well, treating our drivers well, treating the local communities that we work with respect, which is also very good for business.”
Lyft managed to raise over $2.34 billion from its IPO which valued the company at $24 billion, both of which are more than the market expected.
But compared to an expected valuation of more than $120 billion for Uber when it launches it IPO later this year, Lyft’s valuation was but a small fraction. Ubers’ high valuation is because of its international presence and its aggressive expansion into new revenue generating sectors such as food delivery and freight hauling.
Despite being larger in size, in the ride hailing category, Uber and Lyft have progressed together through addition of new forms of rides such as car-pooling, changing fares, investing in autonomous vehicle development and adding scooters and bikes.
This makes Lyft and Uber look quite similar. But both the companies have been making losses because they continue to subsidize their rides to increase market share. But in the United State, the home market for both the companies, Lyft has managed to gain some market share from Uber – increasing its market share from 35 percent in early 2018 to 39 percent as of December 2018.
“We have barely scratched the surface of helping shift the world from a car ownership model to a transportation-as-a-service model,” Lyft’s CEO Logan Green, who is also a co-founder, told Reuters.
The branding strategy of Lyft of portraying itself as a company that is a warmer, more caring one compared to Uber was first launched in 2012. Southwest Airlines Co and Starbucks Corp’s campaigns inspired the campaign of Lyft and aimed to portray itself as being friendly and customer-centric. The company also attempted to get itself associated with the championship Golden State Warriors pro basketball team.
Market share growth came as “consumers were being more discerning in their choices,” and understanding the cap in culture and values of the two companies, said Anna-Marie Wascher, CEO and founding partner at Flat World Partners, an institutional advisory and asset management firm and early Lyft investor.
While a number of problems for Uber have originated because of dissatisfaction its drivers, Lyft on the other hand has managed to create loyalty among its drivers.
Lyft would be able to stand apart from Uber because of the company’s ongoing work supporting drivers, said Zimmer.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)