|On Lyft and the Future of Ridesharing|
On Friday, Lyft became the first ridesharing company to go public. By beating Uber to go public, Lyft will, to some extent, control the narrative around the US ridesharing market. That narrative will be centered around big ideas like ending burdensome car ownership, rebuilding cities around people, and offering cheap, ubiquitous, multimodal transportation as a service.
As we consider the dynamics of the ridesharing industry, we are directed by two questions: 1. Should this exist? 2. Is this a good business?
There is little doubt that ridesharing should exist. Ridesharing has transformed our lives, making it easier and cheaper to get where we need to go, and it’s pioneering an undeniable trend toward transportation as a service.
Is it a good business? Not right now, but it could be a great business.
Lyft’s S-1 shows that, today, ridesharing is characterized by intense competition, potentially questionable brand loyalty, and massive growth spending. The large valuations assigned to both Lyft and Uber are based on the hope that the future of ridesharing will look different than it does today.
What follows is a framework for how we look at the landscape of the US ridesharing market as Lyft and Uber compete for market share, expand into other modalities, take on other jobs, and embrace autonomy.
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