6 Genius Things Lyft Is Doing While Everyone’s Hating on Uber

Ridesharing mainly has been a story of two competitors in the U.S. Uber was and still is the more aggressive and dominant in the minds of most riders. Lyft developed the reputation of a distant number two. Some new and recent moves show how Lyft is changing its approach to business and working to build a stronger reputation that won’t the equivalent of Uber’s shadow.

In business, things change, and sometimes quickly. Uber and CEO Travis Kalanick have tripped time and again. It has angered employees over allegations of sexual harassment, drivers regarding the way they are treated, and many passengers concerning a perceived indifference to protests over the Trump refugee and immigration ban in January. Lyft has been able to take advantage of the flubs and profit at Uber’s expense.

Profiting from a competitor’s errors is fine, but business strategies need more than reaction. Lyft has steadily worked to move beyond the context of Uber and toward being recognized as important in its own right. Here are six of the smart moves the company has been making.

Brand building, not Uber bashing

The single most important change is a recognition that the company must have an existence in the mind of consumers independent of a bigger competitor. Lyft’s new chief marketing officer, Melissa Waters, wants to shift promotion from Uber-related reactions to building brand awareness, as explained by Waters in an interview with the Wall Street Journal — itself a major step. Here’s the mental framing she’s using:

We take for granted in Silicon Valley that everyone knows what Lyft is. We know for a fact that isn’t true. We know that people make a choice about ride-sharing and who to share their time and money with, and they want to feel good about the choice they’re making. There’s more of a story to tell about a company that puts people first, a company that focuses a lot on experience and making sure we demonstrate how we treat drivers and passengers really well.

Interestingly, she’s taking an approach that parallels the advice linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff has offered to politicians. The most important thing to get people on your side is to address their values. If she can carve out an association on this front, Waters also keeps out Uber from easily taking the same positioning and, without directly trying, puts it into an unfavorable light.

Self-driving deals

Because of economics, the future of the rideshare industry may depend on self-driving vehicles. Paying drivers to work as independent contractors and maintain their own vehicles is expensive. There are few natural economies of scale. Self-driving cars would allow a company to offer service directly and gain economic benefits from bulk purchases of vehicles, fuel, maintenance, and insurance. Lyft has inked partnerships with some of the big names in autonomous vehicle technology, including Google sibling Waymo and General Motors, which is one of its investors. A few more smart deals and Lyft could start to prevent others from easily expanding in the same ways.

Delta SkyMiles connection

Ground transportation, particularly rental cars, has long been integrated into the airline promotional infrastructure. Lyft has made a big move in that direction with the offer of Delta SkyMiles, with each dollar of a fare generating a mile. There’s even a current window of bonus miles and a potential $20 ride credit for new Lyft users. The deal opens the door for increased cross-promotional opportunities and shows that Lyft is looking at marketing in a broader sense.

Blue Cross healthcare tie-up

Talking of promotional partnerships, Lyft has a brilliant new national one with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association:

Over the next several months, BCBS will incorporate Lyft services into an innovative service delivery model for select Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies – at no cost to members. The model couples BCBS technology with Lyft’s convenient ride-share services to reduce the number of missed appointments for non-emergency medical care in areas without optimal transportation alternatives servicing health care facilities.

It’s a smart relationship. Lyft gets a new source of business as well as a way to improve its brand recognition. BCBSA likely gets additional location data that has become critical to new approaches to healthcare management and, ultimately, cost controls.

Tighter patent strategy

If the present and future of ridesharing is technology, a strong set of intellectual property protections is vital. CNBC had an analysis done by IP asset management firm M·CAM International. Lyft’s and Uber’s patent strategies differ significantly, and one has an understated advantage.

Lyft’s patents are more focused, specifically on the development of an improved rider experience. Uber’s portfolio is more vast but less likely to bring the company a specific advantage, covering everything from search and mapping to autonomous driving, found MCAM, which analyzed the patent quality of all 838 Disruptor nominees for 2017.

As Dex Wheeler, M·CAM’s chief analyst, said, “Uber has many more patents than Lyft, but they are, in my opinion, more protectionary than visionary.” Protection is important for the present. Vision defines the future.

Keeping drivers happy

It will likely be some time before self-driving cars broadly replace drivers. Also, computers don’t build relationships; people do. Drivers are the face of a company. The Rideshare Guy Blog ran an unscientific survey of its readers. Still, the results were interesting to consider. Just under 50% of drivers said they were satisfied with the experience of driving for Uber. Compare that to the 75.8% of drivers satisfied with Lyft.

Drivers are in business to make money. Many work for more than one company and Uber is where the clients are — for now. But as Lyft makes more headway and gets additional consumer mindshare, driver satisfaction could become an important factor in where people can more easily find rides. And happier drivers will likely mean happier customers who come back.

California should not be ‘deciding everyone’s values’ – TheBlaze

In a surprising statement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire social media mogul stated that people on the coast should not be deciding the values of everyone else in the world.

In a mission statement titled “Building a Global Community,” Zuckerberg detailed the mission for Facebook going forward that focused on connecting everyone across the planet, as the name implies. This includes a voting system. Fast Company sat down with Zuckerberg to have him elaborate on that.

“At the very end of your letter you mention building a global voting system. You’re not talking about political voting. What is that about?”

Zuckerberg explained that part of this voting system is understanding that cultures and lines exist from place to place, and that part of setting up a global community is allowing that community to decide for itself what is best for it, not some people in a state with it’s own values and principles.

I was talking about collective decision making. One of the things that we have struggled with recently is how do we have a set of community standards that can apply across a community of almost two billion people. One example that has been quite controversial has been nudity. There are very different cultural norms ranging from country to country. In some places, the idea that showing a woman’s breasts would be controversial feels backwards. But there are other places where images that are at all sexually suggestive, even if they don’t show nudity, just because of a pose, that’s over the line. The question is, in a larger community, how do you build mechanisms so that the community can decide for itself and individuals can decide for themselves where they want the lines to be? This is a tricky part of running this company. In setting the nudity policy, for example, we are not trying to impose our values on folks, we’re trying to reflect what the community thinks. We have come to this realization that a bunch of people sitting in a room in California is not going to be the best way to reflect all the local values that people have around the world. So we need to evolve the systems for collective decision making. It’s an interesting problem. There are certainly going to be a lot more global infrastructure and global enterprises going forward, there just hasn’t been anything at this scale yet.

Zuckerberg went on to explain that there will of course be guidelines. For instance, Facebook will not allow child pornography onto its site, or suggesting violence against a race of people such as the Jews, but when it comes to how Facebook will operate policy-wise in the future, it will be community driven.