Why Did Lyft Shift Away from its Founders to a Hired CEO?

Ariel Ariel
3/31/23

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps - Everyone's Taking on Instagram. Check out the full article for more insights.


Earlier in the week, Uber's chief rival, Lyft, announced it's replacing its founders with a new CEO.

A founder stepping down usually means trouble, or a mega exit. Looking at demand, aka downloads, this case is more of the former and none of the latter.

Downloads of Uber and Lyft in the US

Uber is the leader in rides. Has been for quite a while, and even through the rough patch and ultimately its founder being replaced by a hired CEO, Uber still managed to maintain the lead over Lyft.

When covid locked down the country both Uber and Lyft suffered, but like most other IRL apps, both recovered at some point last year. But unlike Uber, which not just recovered but also saw downloads grow by multiple millions, Lyft's didn't grow as much.

According to our estimates, Uber added 8M and 7.7M new users in Q3 and Q4 of 2022 from the App Store and Google Play in the US.

Lyft added 5.3M and 5M users, respectively.

As we go through all the quarters, the trend is obvious, Lyft is far behind. Still growing, but not as fast.

FYI - I'm only looking at the US here because Uber is muuuch larger internationally.

But there's more which I think is even more important. Drivers.

Downloads of Uber Driver and Lyft Driver apps

Looking at downloads of the driver companion apps from both, Lyft isn't the platform drivers want to drive for in a post-covid world.

Much like its growth in riders, Uber's driver side of the business also grew beyond its pre-covid numbers. The platform added 2.5M drivers in the US, based on app downloads, in Q3 and also in Q4, so a total of 5M new drivers, according to our estimates.

That's about two million more than Q3 and Q4 of 2019. A nice upward trend.

Lyft's trend was the opposite. A little more than a million drivers joined Lyft in Q3 and A4 of 2022, down from 1.3M in 2019. A small drop when looking at the numbers but a significant one when considering the direction of the trend.

Replacing a founder with a hired CEO is tough. I'm not saying hired CEOs can't do a good job, but for a founder, there's more to it than just doing a good job. Between reduced growth in demand and negative growth in drivers, however, Lyft's board had to make a tough decision.

Let's see what the new CEO can do to lift the numbers.

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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.

Tagged: #business

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