Friday, December 19, 2014

Uber Competitor Lyft Phasing Out the Moustache

My takeaway from this Vox post:
Lyft says its drivers can make $35 an hour. I spent a week driving to see if that’s true.
My first day as a Lyft driver wasn't going well. After dropping off a passenger in Arlington, Virginia, I forgot to tap the "drop off" button in the Lyft app to indicate that the trip was over.
I didn't discover my mistake until 90 minutes later. As a result, the customer got a nasty surprise: a $44 bill for a ride that should have cost about $7 (a Lyft administrator corrected the charge a few hours later, after I pointed out the problem). This was bad for me too, because during those 90 minutes I couldn't pick up a new passenger.

Oh, and I had one other problem: the woman had left her keys in my car.

Lyft drivers don't have access to the full names or phone numbers of passengers, but I was able to figure out my passenger's work number based on where I had dropped her off. By the time I called her, it was 5:30 on a Monday afternoon. After four hours on the clock, I had gotten only three customers. And now, instead of picking up customers during the busy rush-hour period, I had to drive back out to Arlington in bumper-to-bumper traffic to drop off the keys.

My experience left me skeptical that drivers will be able to make anywhere close to $30 per hour
I would pick up two more passengers before finally calling it a night around 7:30 pm. All told, I spent five and a half hours on the clock and made $48. That's less than Washington DC's minimum wage — even before you subtract money for gas.

Things got better later in the week. I wound up working 50 hours, earning almost $600 in fares. And I actually made a lot more than that. Lyft paid me $1,500 (which I'll be donating to DC Central Kitchen) under a program that guaranteed drivers would make $30 per hour if they worked 50 hours. In other words, Lyft paid me more than $2 for every dollar in revenue I generated for them.

That absurdly generous compensation, funded by millions in venture capital, is part of Lyft's strategy to expand its roster of drivers in order to better compete with Uber. Obviously, these deals can't last, and my experience left me skeptical that drivers will be able to make anywhere close to $30 per hour without them....MUCH MORE
Nor did I get one of those famous Lyft mustaches for my car. My mentor told me that the giant pink mustaches on the front of the car were being phased out. He had a smaller and more tasteful pink mustache on his dashboard, but I didn't even get one of those.