The general consensus is that Uber is dominating Lyft. It’s no secret. Uber’s growth and execution has been a work of beauty, virtually unmatched by any tech startup in history.
While most of my friends regularly use Uber, I’ve been a Lyft rider since the beginning. That’s partly because I identify with the “friendlier” brand — geared at the average Joe. The larger part of the equation is that I deeply understand the peer-to-peer transportation grid that Lyft is aiming to unlock. As a result, I believe Lyft will impact more people worldwide than Uber.
It’s important to note: I did not say generate more revenue or profit.
Why am I long on Lyft?
While standing at bus stops in Queen Anne, Belltown or Fremont waiting to travel to downtown Seattle, I know dozens of the cars that pass me with only one passenger are driving to within a few blocks of where I am going. Wouldn’t it be great if one of them would stop and pick me up?
In the future, I believe every driver will turn on Lyft (or a competing service) upon getting in their car to check whether someone has requested a ride on their route. Think of the traffic congestion that scenario would alleviate.
Lyft’s Driver Destination offering is a massive step in that direction (note: Hunter Walk’s post about Lyft this weekend inspired this post). Cities will inevitably realize that less investment in transportation infrastructure is needed if carpooling was the norm rather than the exception.
Every person does not need their own private car. That’s a 1st world problem. Yet every person needs the easiest, most efficient, and cheapest option from point A to point B. The most efficient and cheapest option is certainly not private drivers. It’s shared transit options such as Songthaews (Thailand), dala dala (Tanzania), and Jeepney (Philippines). It’ll take awhile, but I see a world where transportation options are run and paid for on a mobile platform (they run on cash now) such as Lyft.
Uber’s brand can certainly support being the technology platform of choice for all limos and taxis worldwide. Lyft’s brand can support being the technology under the entire public transportation grid (including a massive peer-to-peer component that doesn’t exist today).
There’s little doubt in my mind which of those outcomes would touch and impact more people worldwide, assuming both companies figure out how to massively scale globally. Uber may generate more money and achieve a bigger valuation, but Lyft has an incredible shot at having more impact on society over the long term.
Will Uber annihilate the entire transportation market, both public and private as well as high end and low end, to prove me wrong? Maybe.
But history has shown that brands are not known for multiple things. Your private driver and your friend with a car — are two totally different consumer opportunities for completely different segments of the population.
Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon. Global nomad originating in Seattle. Ex-Zillow community builder. Social Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers.