Lyft and Uber are ground zero if we want to understand the transformation of work by technology. There are so many key themes exposed by these services: data, networks, and algorithms allowing a small core of company employees to deploy a huge network of on-demand labor; markets with pricing responsive to supply and demand; how technology-augmented workers can deliver services that were previously unavailable (except perhaps to the very rich), in the process vastly expanding demand and creating new jobs; workers who are treated as independent entrepreneurs seeking to maximize their income and the use of their time rather than as employees on a schedule assigned by the company; the clash of upstarts vs incumbent industries; the possibility of transforming not just the taxi business but eventually the very notion of owning a car. This is an innovation that can alter the very shape of cities. But there are also key issues brought to the fore: will the jobs of the future have a safety net? Are they good jobs? As people piece together an income via an overlapping set of jobs in a “gig economy,” are the workers getting a fair shake? Logan is deeply thoughtful about all of these issues, and deeply idealistic about the possibility of applying technology not just for competitive advantage but to change the world for the better.
— Tim O’Reilly
Lyft wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. You couldn’t have assumed that every driver on the road would have a smartphone that could track their exact location, and you couldn’t assume that every potential passenger on the road could pull a phone out of their pocket to get a ride. The different pieces of mobile have been around for a few years, but being able to make the assumption that everyone has one and the ubiquity of it has finally unlocked the businesses that are built on top of that network.
There are a lot of exciting things happening in the tech world, but we’re only more recently getting to a place where tech is impacting these giant aspects of the real world. From the way that we build cars or going after space travel, I get excited about the transportation space because it’s the second-highest household expense after housing. An average household spends 20% of combined incomes on transportation, and most of that goes toward owning and maintaining a car. I get excited about people who are taking on audacious real world problems.
Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of Lyft, has long been fascinated by innovation in transportation, having grown up in Southern California with much of his childhood spent stuck in traffic. Lyft, the on-demand ridesharing platform, was founded in 2007 with Zimride as the first of two products built to create a more social, sustainable, and affordable transportation system. The idea for Zimride (and ultimately Lyft) struck while Logan was studying in Zimbabwe during college, where carpooling is a common form of transportation among neighbors and communities. Logan also created the first car-share program at UC Santa Barbara, and served on the board of the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District prior to starting Zimride.
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