As I.P.O. Approaches, Lyft’s Chief Is Nudged Into the Spotlight

In 2011, Zimride raised $6 million. But as an online service, it was caught flat-footed by the rise of smartphones and cellular apps. In 2012, Mr. Green determined to spin out of Zimride a cellular, peer-to-peer ride-hailing service, calling it Lyft.

Instead of simply pairing college students for long-distance rides, Lyft would put drivers along with riders on public streets, in actual time. Mr. Zimmer got here up with the thought to emblazon the vehicles with pink mustaches; Mr. Green inspired passengers to greet their drivers with a fist bump, to maintain the neighborhood feeling of Zimride.

At the time, ride-hailing wasn’t authorized, and solely licensed drivers might choose up passengers on public streets. Ann Miura-Ko, a accomplice at the enterprise capital agency Floodgate, who had invested in Zimride and sits on Lyft’s board, recalled that some board members had been uncertain about the change — however that Mr. Green had been assured.

“Someone asked, ‘Will this really work?’ And he wasn’t just sure, he was positive,” she stated.

But Mr. Green didn’t reckon with one challenge: Uber. At the time, Uber, run by Travis Kalanick, had positioned itself as a luxurious service for the rich that used solely licensed drivers, not like Lyft’s lower-cost service. In 2013, Uber revealed a white paper outlining the dangers of peer-to-peer ride-hailing, a solution to elbow Lyft out of the market.

“They were trying to get the whole category shut down behind the scenes,” Mr. Green stated. “They didn’t want competition.”

Uber officers met with California regulators about the matter. As for Mr. Green, a number of present and former regulators and lawmakers who oversee ride-sharing in California stated they’d by no means labored with him, as a result of Mr. Zimmer was usually the one who communicated with officers.

“Truth be told, I’ve never heard of him,” stated Aaron Peskin, a San Francisco supervisor who referred to as for crackdowns on Uber and Lyft of their early years and negotiated a brand new per-ride tax with Uber and Lyft final summer season.

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