The legal battle between Lyft and its former COO is shaping up to be a long, ugly fight. The on-demand car company has accused Travis VanderZanden of stealing tens of thousands of secret company documents before he joined Lyft's main competitor, Uber. Now VanderZanden has fired back in a new court filing, saying he was plotting with Lyft's board of directors to dispose of the company's CEO before leaving the startup.
Uber made a small splash last month when it hired Lyft's former COO Travis VanderZanden. Kara Swisher said the move "will surely increase tensions between Uber and Lyft, which are now pretty tense as it is." And she was right: Lyft is suing VanderZanden, alleging that he took company secrets along with him to Uber.
Multiple traffic lights were molested last night as crowds of fans flocked to San Francisco's Mission District following the Giants' World Series victory. As the riot grew in size and SFPD officers began losing control of the situation, dozens of fires were ignited as helicopters beaming spotlights swarmed overhead.
The fierce price war between Uber and Lyft hasn't just been squeezing the pockets of drivers. Hailo, an European on-demand car app backed by millions in American venture capital, says frequent price cuts made it "impossible to be profitable." After two years here, the company is pulling its service from all of North America.
Yesterday, the district attorneys from San Francisco and Los Angeles sent letters to Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar threatening potential legal action, including an injunction to their service unless they make "major changes" regarding background checks and pricing. So where's the usual bombast and bluster about antiquated laws and taxi cartels?
In May, Lyft launched a program to compete with Uber's black car and SUV services. Drivers had to pony up $34,000 to purchase the "tricked-out" Lyft-branded Ford Explorers just to get into the pool. But the luxury pilot bombed, leaving "Lyft Plus" drivers with the expensive SUVs they were forced to buy.
Uber and Lyft have been squeezing yellow cabs ever since they launched their on-demand car services. But the political shtick that startups are the underdog against "big taxi" is becoming a lie: according to San Francisco's taxi boss, the city's cabs have seen average trips decline by 65 percent in just over two years.
Just because Uber's motto is "Everyone's private driver," doesn't mean every car is yours for the hailing. But the popularity of apps like Uber and Lyft have spawned some awkward curbside interactions. "Basically anytime I'm pulled over on the side of the street, someone tries to hail me or just opens my car door," said tech investor Ashwin Deshmukh, when I asked him about the trend.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick likes to talk about the unfair ways that taxi incumbents "protect their monopoly" against his popular product. But the bigger Uber gets, the more aggressive its own protectionist tactics become. CNN says new data from Lyft, a smaller rival, shows 117 Uber employees cancelled 5,560 rides with Lyft drivers around the country since last October.
Lyft's east coast expansion is already hitting serious legal traffic. Despite billing itself as the savior of New York City, the city's tax commission was quick to declare the e-hailing startup illegal. Now the state's attorney general and the Taxi and Limousine Commission have placed a temporary restraining order against the startup.