Lyft was launched in 2012 by two computer programmers, Green and Zimmer, as a service of Zimride - a long distance intercity carpooling company the two founded in 2007. Green came to the idea of Zimride after sharing rides he found on Craigslist from his university to his girlfriend. He didn't like the aspect of not knowing the other passengers or the driver. He used Facebook Connect for his platform which gave the opportunity for passengers and drivers to learn about each other, and make them feel more comfortable.
In 2013, after a hackathon, Zimride changed its name to Lyft. Only a month later they sold Zimride and focused on growing Lyft. It became a ridesharing company for shorter trips within cities. Lyft was known for the large pink furry mustaches drivers had on the front of their cars, but they later removed it because some riders didn't want to arrive to business meetings in such cars. In the following years, Lyft introduced electric scooters to their service, as well as a bicycle-sharing system and a food delivery service.
All ride sharing companies had their share of drama, and Lyft wasn't exempt from it. They were in the public eye for a sexual assault lawsuit, in which a number of women reported that they were assaulted by Lyft drivers, and even after reporting it, Lyft did nothing to stop this and continued to allow the drivers to use the platform. Lyft was also sued for sending a large number of unwanted commercial text messages, but settled with a huge payout.
With the ridesharing market being competitive, Lyft missed out on some opportunities. Even though Lyft has become one of the leading ridesharing and bikesharing companies in the world (second best after Uber), they lost the battle in the electric bikesharing market.
They were the first to begin testing ebikes in New York, Washington DC and San Francisco. Unfortunately, due to some accidents where riders were thrown over the handlebars and batteries catching on fire, they had to pull the ebikes from the streets. While they were repairing them, Uber took over with their custom built electric bikes that were superior to Lyft's. Even though Lyft won't disclose how much money they invested in the ebikes, investors are putting pressure on Lyft to limit it because it's not exactly bringing any profit.
Maybe self-driving cars is where they will win, but the competition is fierce. One of Green's dreams for Lyft from the beginning were self-driving cars. It took around 6 years of partnering with different companies and startups, testing and developing autonomous vehicles systems, working on the safety and accessibility to make this possible. By 2018 Lyft successfully completed 5000 rides using self driving cars in Las Vegas. They haven't stopped there and have acquired an augmented reality startup Blue Vision Labs to help autonomous cars extract useful information from street-level images.
For this potentially lucrative market, they are up against Uber who has an autonomous vehicle division of their own, Google's Waymo, GM’s Cruise Automation, Baidu’s initiative, and many autonomous vehicle startups including Zoox. The one who can insure not crashing into things and people will be the winner. May the fastest learner win!