Uber’s much smaller rival has built market share, expanded aggressively, even as founders counsel humility
Lyft told its employees Uber’s troubles “don’t do anything to deliver a better experience for our customers.” Photo: Getty Images
As Uber Technologies Inc. was grappling with leadership turmoil that ultimately led to its chief executive’s resignation, the founders of rival ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. sent a companywide email.
“This isn’t a time to gloat,” they said.
Schadenfreude might have been understandable at Lyft, which has been locked in a bitter, cash-burning battle with Uber for years. The San Francisco-based companies have slugged it out with competing fare cuts to woo customers, and dueling subsidies to poach drivers—each quickly matching new features when the other rolls them out on its app.
Lyft, which is by far the smaller of the two, has long tried to build a reputation as the better-behaved ride-sharing company, with a playful pink logo that stands in contrast to Uber’s austere black-and-white emblem. In November, well before Uber’s string of scandals started, Lyft started running a series of TV commercials portraying executives at a fictitious competitor—a thinly veiled sendup of Uber—scheming against Lyft and ridiculing its practice of letting riders tip drivers.
That left Lyft’s brand extraordinarily well-positioned when Uber’s travails began in February with a blog post by a female former engineer alleging sexual harassment and discrimination at Uber. That was followed by problems including a legal battle with Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit over autonomous-driving technology and an exodus of high-level executives, culminating in CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick’s resignation on Tuesday.