LYFT - Lyft, Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD
-2.25 (-4.76%)
At close: 4:00PM EST
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Previous Close47.31
Bid44.88 x 29200
Ask45.00 x 1100
Day's Range44.05 - 47.18
52 Week Range37.07 - 88.60
Avg. Volume6,716,809
Market Cap13B
Beta (3Y Monthly)N/A
PE Ratio (TTM)N/A
EPS (TTM)-6.66
Earnings DateOct. 30, 2019
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est67.70
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  • Uber Reports 3,000 Sexual Assault Claims Last Year in Its Safety Review

    Uber Reports 3,000 Sexual Assault Claims Last Year in Its Safety Review

    (Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc. found more than 3,000 allegations of sexual assaults involving drivers or passengers on its platform in the U.S. last year, part of an extensive and long-awaited review in response to public safety concerns.The ride-hailing company released an 84-page safety report Thursday, seeking to quantify the misconduct and deaths that occur on its system and argue that its service is safer than alternatives.U.S. customers took about 1.3 billion trips last year, Uber said. About 50 people have died in Uber collisions annually for the past two years, at a rate about half the national average for automotive fatalities, according to the company. Nine people were killed in physical assaults last year, Uber said.Uber drivers reported nearly as many allegations of sexual assault as passengers, who made 56% of the claims. There is little comparable data on assaults in taxis or other transportation systems, and experts have said the attacks are widely under-reported. The assault claims reported to Uber ranged from unwanted kissing to forcible penetration.“Uber is very much a reflection of society,” said Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer who helped spearhead the two-year research effort. “The sad, unfortunate fact is that sexual violence is more prevalent in our society than people think. People don’t like to talk about this issue.”Uber had committed more than a year ago to release a safety study, a promise Lyft Inc. made soon after. Lyft, the second-biggest ride-hailing provider in the U.S., has yet to publish a report. On Thursday, Uber said it would regularly share data with Lyft and other companies about drivers accused of serious safety lapses and continue publishing safety reports every two years.Uber has faced a steady stream of complaints in court across the country over driver misconduct, and Lyft has recently seen an explosion in legal claims by passengers. Just in California, at least 52 riders have sued Lyft this year over allegations they were assaulted or harassed by their drivers, according to filings reviewed by Bloomberg.Any number of deaths or violence is a reminder of the risks inherent to taking a ride with a stranger and the limited oversight the company has over what occurs. By publishing the data, Uber is taking an unusual step for a company, by drawing attention to the dangers of its product. The stock fell about 1.5% in extended trading after Uber put out the report.Uber shares had already fallen more than 35% from its May initial public offering through Thursday’s close. Its largest shareholder is Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., which has struggled with its bets on Uber, WeWork and other startups in recent months.Uber has faced similar complaints in countries beyond the U.S. The company was sued in 2017 by a woman who alleged top executives violated her privacy after one of its drivers in India allegedly raped her.Regulators in London cited uncertainty about Uber’s ability to ensure the well-being of its passengers as a reason they revoked the company’s license to operate there last week. Uber will be able to continue operating in the U.K. capital as it appeals the decision. Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive officer, said at an event earlier this week that “a precursor to trust is transparency.”According to the study, the proportion of assaults to total trips decreased by 16% last year as Uber implemented new safety tools, such as contacting drivers and customers when the system identifies unusual activity, as well as adding a button to dial 9-1-1 from the app. “I do think Uber is one of the safest ways to get from point A to point B,” said West.Uber disclosed five categories of sexual assault allegations. In 2018, Uber received 1,560 reports of non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, 594 reports of non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, 376 reports of non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part, 280 reports of attempted non-consensual sexual penetration and 235 reports of non-consensual sexual penetration.The extent of sexual misconduct, while staggering, isn’t unique to Uber, said Ebony Tucker, executive director at Raliance, an advocacy and consulting firm focused on preventing sexual violence. Uber’s findings “didn’t surprise any of us,” she said. “Sexual assault is pervasive. It’s everywhere.”Counting assaults is a complicated exercise. Only about a third of claims the company received about penetration without consent were reported to the police, Uber estimated. In about a quarter of cases, Uber said its team didn’t successfully communicate with the victim after the initial report. Women reported 89% of the rape allegations, the company said.Uber opted not to disclose many other troubling forms of sexual misconduct that it had previously identified as possible reporting categories. For instance, the company didn’t say how many times drivers and riders made inappropriate comments to one another, nor did it disclose incidents of indecent exposure.But advocates for victims of sexual violence called the decision to release data a potential watershed moment. “It’s really unprecedented for a company to collect this kind of systematic data over time and then share it with the public,” said Karen Baker, chief executive officer of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which advised Uber on the study. Baker said she has urged other companies in the hospitality and transportation industries in the U.S. to follow suit.Both Baker and Uber’s legal chief said the company may see an increase in reports of sexual misconduct in the future. That would actually be a positive sign, Baker said, because it would reflect victims’ confidence that their claims would be taken seriously.(Updates with share price in ninth paragraph)\--With assistance from Robert Burnson.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at;Lizette Chapman in San Francisco at lchapman19@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Beyond Meat Strikes Costco Deal: Should Investors Buy BYND Stock?

    Beyond Meat Strikes Costco Deal: Should Investors Buy BYND Stock?

    Beyond Meat (BYND) announced Thursday that its plant-based burger patties would appear in select Costco (COST) stores.

  • Peloton (PTON) Stock Tries to Rebound After Commercial Backlash

    Peloton (PTON) Stock Tries to Rebound After Commercial Backlash

    Peloton (PTON) was down over 9% at one point in Tuesday's trading after it faced scrutiny over its new holiday commercial.

  • Bill fighting robocalls will have consequences for companies like Uber
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    Bill fighting robocalls will have consequences for companies like Uber

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  • GlobeNewswire

    Lyft Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer to Keynote at the Credit Suisse 23rd Annual Technology Conference

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  • What we've learned from unicorns Uber, Lyft and WeWork in 2019: Mohamed El-Erian
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  • Peloton Stock Climbs Out of Slump: Can PTON Fix the Holes in Its Business?

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  • Here's Why You Should Grab Lyft (LYFT) Stock Right Now

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  • Uber drives up prices for shared rides, Chicago data reveals

    Uber drives up prices for shared rides, Chicago data reveals

    A Reuters analysis of the data shows fares for shared rides in the city have risen significantly over the past year, while fares for single riders have remained stable. The price increases for shared rides predominantly affect Chicago's low-income neighbourhoods, which is where most of the carpool rides are booked, the analysis showed. The Chicago data does not differentiate between rides operated by Uber Technologies Inc , Lyft Inc , or smaller ride-share rival Via.

  • Bloomberg

    Beyoncé and Mariah Carey Helped Turn Airbnb Into a Luxury Brand

    (Bloomberg) -- For one week in the summer of 2015, consumers of celebrity gossip news couldn’t escape Mariah Carey’s trip to Malibu, California. Her stay at an Airbnb there, which she chronicled on Instagram, made headline writers swoon. It was covered in TMZ (“Mariah Carey: I USED AIRBNB… For My Sick Malibu Rental”), Page Six (“Inside Mariah Carey’s $10K-a-night Airbnb rental”) and PopSugar (“Mariah Carey’s $10,000-a-Night Airbnb Is the Ultimate Fantasy,” along with a slideshow).But the pop star didn’t just happen to see the listing idly scrolling through the app. Carey was a test run of what would become a wildly successful celebrity marketing campaign for a young, scrappy startup. Airbnb Inc. covered the cost of the Malibu stay, and it was just the beginning. The company had relationships with about 65 celebrities and went on to provide free lodging for several of the world’s biggest stars, including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.All the company asked for in return was that, if they had a good time, they consider posting about it online.Today, influencer marketing is a more than $6 billion industry. A single post can command upward of $1 million. But the lucrative practice has attracted scrutiny from U.S. regulators as influencers and celebrities blur the lines of content and advertising. Instagram recently came under fire over influencers shilling diet teas with ingredients approved for use only as laxatives. The Federal Trade Commission issued new guidance for social media disclosure this month.But Airbnb’s celebrity marketing program, the details of which haven’t been previously reported, started before most people knew what an influencer was. It was a harbinger of the celebrity marketing bonanza to come and played a role in setting up Airbnb as an alternative to high-end resorts—now a key part of the company’s strategy as it seeks to justify a $31 billion valuation and go public next year. As public investors look less kindly on money-losing tech companies, it helps that booking a beach-side villa is far more profitable than renting a spare bedroom in Queens, New York. To bolster that strategy, Airbnb made one of its largest-ever acquisitions in 2017 for a business called Luxury Retreats and introduced a mansion-rental service in summer 2018 called Airbnb Luxe.“The Mariah relationship has become legendary for Airbnb,” says Jonathan Mildenhall, who was Airbnb’s chief marketing officer at the time. Airbnb declined to provide details on its relationships with celebrities. “As a hospitality company that embraces hosting, we work with a number of celebrities and public personalities and often pick up the tab,” a spokeswoman wrote in an emailed statement.Before a company can get a star to use and endorse its products to millions of followers, though, it has to get an introduction. At the time, Airbnb didn’t have the budget to go through the typical gatekeepers. Talent agencies that might broker a traditional sponsorship deal were prohibitively expensive, Mildenhall says.So Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s chief executive officer, offered an unconventional idea. There was a guy in Las Vegas who ran a nightclub packed with celebrities, who were his friends; he hosted their parties; and they might just listen to his recommendations about a house-rental app. “Go and check this guy out,” Mildenhall recalls Chesky telling him. “See if it’s authentic.”Chesky’s guy was Jeff Beacher. His nightclub, Beacher’s Madhouse, was the stuff of Las Vegas legend. Beacher himself was a nightlife institution, dubbed at different times a “celebrity showman” by Rolling Stone, a “great innovator” by Entrepreneur and a “corpulent clown prince” by the Las Vegas Weekly.Beacher’s Madhouse started getting attention in Las Vegas in the mid-2000s. It was a vaudevillian bacchanal, with Beacher onstage as emcee often wearing a red satin ringmaster’s vest. The show featured little people costumed as Oompa Loompas dangling from the ceiling on zip lines to deliver bottles of Champagne to tables. There were sword swallowers, live goats, contortionists and performers known as Mini Britney Spears and Mini Donald Trump. At points, the show also claimed to feature the world’s smallest and the world’s oldest strippers.But the most remarkable feature of Beacher’s Madhouse was the patrons: Celebrity news sites chronicled appearances by Bieber, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mick Jagger at its Las Vegas and, later, Los Angeles locations. Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas all threw birthday parties there. “You have this seven-and-a-half-foot transvestite and all these wild performers doing all kinds of crazy things like getting into washing machines and, you know, crushing hands with their giant boobs,” says Larry Rudolph, the talent manager for Britney Spears. “It was just a party.”Beacher was, in short, just the kind of unconventional power broker Airbnb needed. His friendship with Mariah Carey was well documented. Beacher made the introductions, and after Carey’s first stay in July 2015, she traveled to another Airbnb a few months later. The following year, the singer again stayed with Airbnb in a $22 million Colorado mansion during an Aspen getaway.  Soon after Airbnb started working with Beacher, the startup knew something had clicked. Mildenhall, who ran marketing from 2014 to 2018, “realized that there was this authentic relationship between him and Mariah,” he says. “It wasn’t financially driven.”Airbnb hired Beacher as an outside “entertainment relations consultant.” Here’s how it worked: Unlike the influencer marketing that’s become standard today, Mildenhall says no financial contracts were drawn and no money changed hands—unless you count the cost of the rental. (Which, to be clear, the FTC would.) The arrangements were largely informal. “It’s not, ‘Wear this handbag; I’ll give you $10,000,’” Mildenhall says. “If they enjoy it, if they have had a good experience, then they talk about that on their own social media platforms.”Soon, Airbnb was racking up celebrity appearances: It housed Kylie Jenner in a $50 million, 23-bedroom complex in Turks and Caicos. It put up Spears in a $6,000-a-night Malibu villa for Valentine’s Day. And it sheltered all three Jonas brothers in a New York townhouse that had a pool with a waterfall.  But it was in 2016, less than a year into Beacher’s consulting contract, that the startup scored a real coup. After playing to more than 115 million people at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, Beyoncé retired to an opulent mansion in Los Altos Hills, California, equipped with an infinity pool, a chicken coop and 60 fruit trees. She posted a picture of herself on Facebook, sitting near a sleek outdoor fireplace at night, writing: “It was a super weekend Airbnb.”There were dozens of articles about the exploit. E! News noted the property’s livestock, while the Washington Post and BuzzFeed raised questions about whether the post was sponsored. Either way, the hit turned into a streak. The following year, Lady Gaga posted a picture of herself in a different opulent mansion after her 2017 Super Bowl performance. She wrote: “Thank you @airbnb for the gorgeous home in Houston for SB51.” There are rules around disclosing sponsorships. The basic premise of the guidelines demands a “clear and conspicuous” disclaimer of any commercial relationship with the poster and the brand they’re posting about. But the rules leave room for interpretation and have historically not been stringently enforced. As a result, they’re routinely ignored. Ambiguous sponsored content, whereby a social media user receives pay or free goods that they then post about online, has “run rampant,” says Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a digital rights group.In its work with celebrities, Airbnb says it was careful not to run afoul of regulators. “We adhere to FTC guidelines by incorporating them into our engagements with these individuals,” a spokeswoman wrote in an email.Still, particularly in the early days, some celebrity posts about their Airbnbs occupied a gray area. In 2016, around the time the FTC stepped up enforcement of sponsored posts, Truth in Advertising, a consumer advocacy group, sent a letter to members of the Kardashian and Jenner family complaining of “a multitude of posts” about shoes, food and other products that did not clearly disclose commercial relationships, prompting the family to revise many of them. In one, wherein Kylie Jenner stood statuesquely in a white bathing suit above a sun-soaked pool, the text changed from, “Thanks for the birthday home, @airbnb,” to: “Thanks for the gift of a lovely birthday home, @airbnb.”Lady Gaga similarly edited her original Super Bowl post to clarify that the Airbnb home was a “gift.” And after reporters asked if Beyoncé’s Super Bowl post was sponsored, she eventually deleted it. More recently, as the FTC has updated its guidelines on what disclosures are required, celebrities’ simple thank-yous to Airbnb have generally been replaced with more explicit language, like the caption in this post from Bieber, which reads, “Thanks for hooking me up, @airbnb.” Instagram has also changed its policies to help address disclosures of commercial relationships for the burgeoning influencer marketing industry. An executive at the Facebook Inc.-owned app recently said there’s no evidence disclosure detracts from a campaign’s effectiveness.“When Airbnb started working with celebrities, the guidelines weren’t clearly established,” Mildenhall wrote in an email. “We worked closely with the FTC to evolve our approach so that the posts clearly referenced that Airbnb had gifted the home for the duration of the stay. This is now commonplace practice for all celebrity endorsements.”Beacher also says he made sure his deals were compliant with the “constantly evolving landscape” of FTC requirements, adding, “Each company I worked with has very black-and-white and strict policies when it comes to following FTC regulations.” Last year, Mildenhall left Airbnb and started his own agency called TwentyFirstCenturyBrand. Beacher also ended his work with Airbnb in 2018, after a roughly three-year collaboration. Over that time, technology startups became a significant part of Beacher’s business. He served as a consultant for Lyft Inc. for two years and says he helped build out its celebrity marketing efforts. A Lyft spokeswoman says Beacher started working with the company’s culture and entertainment team a couple of years after it was formed and that the group is “thankful for his support.” In conversation, Beacher is given to grand pronouncements. (“I am very good at the media,” he says.) But he is loath to talk about the specifics of his business relationships and is constantly worried about violating non-disclosures agreements. Asked for comment about the mechanics of his deals with Airbnb, Beacher wrote in an email: “The No. 1 rule of celebrity endorsements is to never discuss either side of an endorsement deal and always keep yourself behind the scenes.”He is more open about his enthusiasm for vitamin drips, a procedure popular with such stars as Chrissy Teigen and Kendall Jenner, who once ended up in the hospital as a result, according to reports. Beacher, who now embraces a health-conscious lifestyle, often speaks publicly about how his time in the entertainment industry almost killed him.In 2014, after more than a decade running Beacher’s Madhouse, he was depressed and gaining weight. “I got really crazy fat,” Beacher says over an arugula salad lunch in San Francisco, “like, morbidly obese, 440 pounds.” He blames the breakdown on the death of his business partner, stress and various medications he was taking at the time. “My friends gave me, like, a fat intervention,” Beacher says. He went to a raw vegan retreat in West Palm Beach, Florida, got gastric bypass surgery in 2015 and took a hiatus from work.After that, Beacher pulled back from the fast-paced, late-night world of club-running and turned to more corporate pursuits. As Beacher began connecting celebrities with tech companies, word got around. “He became known in some of these circles as a person with connections to Silicon Valley,” says Rudolph, who has managed both Spears and Miley Cyrus. Beacher was the person to call, Rudolph says, “if somebody wanted to get in touch with Lyft or something like that.”Today, Beacher says he’s working with about 10 companies. One of those is Wheels Labs Inc., an electric mini-bike rental startup founded by the brothers who created the dog-walking app Wag Labs Inc., where he was also a consultant. Wheels last month raised $50 million. A spokesman for the company says it has worked with Beacher to create more than a dozen customized bikes for celebrities.But the world of online advertising has changed a lot since Beacher started. “Now it’s like every publicist in the world with a generic pitch deck using buzzwords is pitching big, five-, ten-thousand-dollar retainers,” he sighs. “It’s just very, very saturated.”These days, Beacher says, he’s spending more time on other endeavors such as investing. For example, he holds stock in scooter startup Lime, most recently valued at $2 billion, as well as Health House LLC, a fitness chain co-founded by the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and backed by the Winklevoss twins. Beacher recently got back from another vegan retreat, lost 20 pounds and over the summer was spotted on Rebel Wilson’s Instagram feed, cavorting at Walt Disney World.In the Instagram photos, Cinderella’s Castle rises picturesquely in the background. Wilson’s caption reads: “Thanks to everyone at Disney for this incredible day.” Representatives for the actress and Walt Disney Co. didn’t respond to requests for comment as to whether the post was sponsored.  To contact the author of this story: Anne VanderMey in San Francisco at avandermey@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • Uber, Lyft ‘Turning The Corner’ as Street Grows More Bullish

    Uber, Lyft ‘Turning The Corner’ as Street Grows More Bullish

    (Bloomberg) -- After a bumpy ride in the public markets most of this year, ride-hailing companies Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. might finally be seeing investors’ attitude turning around for the better.Over the past six trading days, Uber’s shares have gained nearly 16%, the biggest gain since their debut in May. Lyft has risen 13% over the same period, while the broader S&P 500 Index has recorded a modest 1% increase.Both companies have seen a smattering of positive developments over the past few weeks, including the expiration of Uber’s IPO lockup period, which had been a major concern, plus a few encouraging reports from Wall Street analyst, and finally the decision by rival Gett to close its New York ride-sharing business.The gain is likely driven by the “lessening of the impact of Uber’s IPO lockup expiration, pretty good third-quarter numbers, some confidence displayed by the CEO as he purchased shares recently, and possibly the market beginning to think that the company can become profitable,” Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said in an email interview.Despite the recent market enthusiasm, the stocks are still a far off their initial public offering prices. Uber remains 34% below its IPO, while Lyft has fallen 35%.The recent third-quarter results from both Uber and Lyft failed to boost their shares, with Uber’s lockup expiry dampening sentiment. But now that the lockup has passed, the focus is back on growth, profits and regulatory concerns. And analysts are starting to sound more optimistic.On Friday, Stifel analyst Scott Devitt upgraded Uber, saying the stock was “turning the corner,” as business fundamentals show signs of sustainable improvement at a time when the valuation offers a “more reasonable entry point.” And last week, Barclays analyst Ross Sandler said Uber could be “one major announcement” away from a change in the narrative and that the shares have the potential to double.For Lyft, JMP analyst Ronald Josey earlier this week said a “clearer path to profitability” was emerging.To contact the reporter on this story: Esha Dey in New York at edey@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at, Scott SchnipperFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Lyft and Peloton Rally, Defying the Mantle of 2019’s Least-Loved Debuts

    (Bloomberg) -- Some of the least-loved stocks to make their debuts this year are rallying on Monday as the S&P 500 Index hovers in record territory.Fitness company Peloton Interactive Inc. gained 11% to a record high, closing above its IPO price of $29 for the first time. At its low last month, the stock was down 27% from its September IPO price, after falling amid concerns over its path to profitability. Lyft Inc. rose 4.2%, to its highest in almost two months, after picking up corporate clients in a deal with rival Juno, which is closing its New York-based operations. While the stock has fallen 38% from its March initial public offering, the share have added 10% since Sept. 30, on track for its first quarterly gain.Slack Technologies Inc., down about 40% from a record set on its first day of trading in June, held onto a gain of 1.1% on Monday. Shares of the workplace-collaboration software company are on a record winning streak after advancing for five consecutive days. Pagerduty Inc., meanwhile, traded above its initial offering price for the first time since October but is still down more than 50% from a June record.To contact the reporter on this story: Jeran Wittenstein in San Francisco at jwittenstei1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at, Courtney DentchFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Ride-hailing service Gett shuts down Juno, partners with Lyft in profitability push
    Yahoo Finance

    Ride-hailing service Gett shuts down Juno, partners with Lyft in profitability push

    Ride-sharing company Gett said it's shutting down Juno and pushing a new partnership with Lyft.

  • Warren Buffett’s Favourite Auto Stock
    The Motley Fool

    Warren Buffett’s Favourite Auto Stock

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  • Alan Patricof: WeWork meltdown is the bottom of the IPO market
    Yahoo Finance

    Alan Patricof: WeWork meltdown is the bottom of the IPO market

    Initial public offerings will be "more discriminating" going forward after WeWork, says investing legend Alan Patricof.

  • Rise of private investing puts growth ‘in the hands of the elite’: Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz
    Yahoo Finance

    Rise of private investing puts growth ‘in the hands of the elite’: Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz

    The rise of private investment is a “terrible problem” for everyday investors cut out of companies’ strongest returns, says top venture capitalist Ben Horowitz.

  • GlobeNewswire

    Lyft Co-Founder and President to Participate in Fireside Chat at the RBC Capital Markets 2019 Technology, Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference

    SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 15, 2019 -- Lyft, Inc. (Nasdaq:LYFT) announced today that John Zimmer, Co-Founder and President, will participate in a fireside chat at the RBC Capital.

  • Bloomberg

    Making Rides Safer Is Going to Cost You

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Your mother probably told you never to get in a car with a stranger. The multibillion-dollar global ride-hailing industry depends on your ignoring her. If they want to earn that trust, though, companies need to rethink the tradeoff they’ve long made between safety and cost.Around the world, passengers are now hailing more than 10.5 billion rides a year. Not surprisingly, some have ended in tragedy. Uber Technologies Inc. came under fire in India after a 26-year-old woman was raped by one of its drivers in 2014, and local rival Ola has faced a similar backlash. In the U.S., Lyft Inc. has been sued by multiple women who say drivers sexually assaulted them.Last year, within the span of three months, two female passengers were murdered by drivers of China’s ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing Inc. Didi’s Hitch carpooling service once was marketed almost as a cross between Uber and Tinder: a taxi service that let drivers and passengers rate each other by appearance. Didi halted Hitch in August 2018 after an outpouring of anger from state media, regulators and China’s version of deleteuber.Last week, Didi announced plans to restart Hitch on a trial basis in seven Chinese cities by the end of the month. The decision follows a “comprehensive safety review and product revamp,” as well as the introduction of a new women’s safety program that includes better “risk analysis” and an updated in-app security assistant. Didi plans to spend 2 billion yuan ($285.5 million) on safety measures this year, including more frequent use of facial-recognition technology — to ensure drivers are who they say they are — and a deeper review of abnormal driving patterns, as well as more regular safety tests for drivers.But the key to the Hitch relaunch were new restrictions on the program. The service was to be limited to trips under 50 kilometers (31 miles) and women would only have been able to ride between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. By contrast, men could keep riding until 11 p.m. After an online backlash, the company revised the service to run only until 8 p.m. for both men and women.While the company’s intentions were good, more obviously needs to be done. A sophisticated analysis of high-risk scenarios won’t help you if you’re stuck in the backseat within an inch of your life. And to assume that a woman will only be raped and murdered between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. more than 30 miles from her pickup point is clearly a bit naïve.What the ride-hailing industry in China and elsewhere really needs to do is reexamine who’s allowed to drive in the first place. It’s hard to say whether the measures Didi is now implementing would have screened out Zhong Yuan, the 28-year-old Hitch driver who was executed in August for murdering his 20-year-old passenger. After passing background checks and providing documentation, you can still become a Didi driver in 10 days or less.Instead, companies should be raising the barriers to entry so they’re hiring fewer, better drivers. And if they won’t, governments should step in. In Malaysia, regulators now require aspiring drivers to pass written exams and health checks, and to register for specific permits. Roughly a third of applicants have failed the exam thus far, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said last month, and more than 20% of Grab drivers have reportedly quit to avoid complying with the stricter regulations.Singapore imposed new rules earlier this year to bring ride-hailing companies closer in line with taxi operators. The regulations were proposed less than a week after my Bloomberg News colleague Yoolim Lee wrote about a Grab accident that left her with a broken neck and at risk of stroke. She estimated that, around the time of the incident, nearly half of private-hire drivers in the city didn't have the proper license and shouldn't have been driving. While fewer drivers doesn’t necessarily mean safer drivers, a steeper commitment at least means they have a lot more at stake to protect their livelihoods.The genius of the gig economy is the ability to make money from underutilized, ubiquitous skills. Yet the model may have been taken too far. Just because you can make an omelet doesn’t mean you should run a diner. So why should you drive professionally just because you have a license?Shrinking the supply of drivers will obviously make rides more expensive. But it’s worth judging the prospect of higher prices against the long cycle of the internet economy. The Web has made everything from academic research to air travel cheaper and easier to access. At the same time, quality goods and services can’t be free forever: We’ve seen this in the news business, where websites that once offered unfettered access to their journalism (including have implemented paywalls. If fewer drivers means safer rides, that’s a price most people should be willing to pay. (Corrects fifth and sixth paragraphs to show Didi revised its initial policy. )To contact the author of this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Nisid Hajari at nhajari@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Rachel Rosenthal is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. Previously, she was a markets reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong. For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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