Lyft vs. Uber, sabotage vs. marketing

Welcome to the wild ride that is the tech industry, where on one hand you have a bunch of big companies accused of agreeing not to poach one another’s employees, and on the other you have two rival startups whose heated battle includes spying on each other and reportedly meticulously carrying out a plan to lure the other’s employees away.

Uber’s plan, according to documents obtained by the Verge, involves using “brand ambassadors” equipped with temporary phones and credit cards to establish Lyft accounts, then having them strike up conversations with Lyft drivers and try to get them to drive for Uber instead. This report comes on the heels of another report a couple of weeks ago that Uber employees were ordering Lyft rides, then canceling them — therefore putting those mustachioed Lyft vehicles out of commission at least for a while.

Seemingly prompted by the Verge report, Uber wrote on its blog that its recruiting tactics are simply Marketing 101:  “We can’t successfully recruit drivers without talking to them — and that means taking a ride. We’re all about more and better economic opportunity for drivers.” In addition, it denies the other charge: “We never use marketing tactics that prevent a driver from making their living – and that includes never intentionally canceling rides.”

San Francisco-based Uber and Lyft are fighting each other even as they fight the taxi industry and face myriad regulatory issues. For example, in California the ride-sharing startups are targets of measures involving insurance, and background checks on the services’ drivers. They also are dealing with opposition and bans in the United States and beyond.


Photo of a Lyft vehicle by Jose A. Iglesias/Miami Herald/MCT


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