Lyft losing as much as $50 million a month, president confirms

Speaking from an elite tech conference in Aspen on Monday, a top Lyft executive gave a rare sneak peek into the company’s inner workings and its war against rival Uber.

Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer addressed an audience at the Brainstorm Tech conference organized by Fortune. Not surprisingly, the company’s financials were among the topics of discussion. Reports have surfaced that Lyft is losing up to $50 million a month — Bloomberg reported that Lyft promised its investors to cap losses at that amount. But Zimmer put a slightly different spin on that high figure. When asked about it Monday, he said: “I would use the word ‘investing,’ ” Fortune reported.

Zimmer also said Lyft has “more than enough money to reach break-even,” though he didn’t say when. He declined to comment on reports that Lyft hired investment bank Qatalyst Partners to organize a potential sale or raise more funding.

Zimmer addressed Lyft’s ongoing battle against rival ride-hailing giant Uber, which is valued at more than $60 billion and has raised staggering amounts of capital as it expands around the globe — CrunchBase data shows Uber has more than $15 billion in its war chest, including debt financing. The company made its first grab for a bank loan last month.

What will set Lyft apart is its better treatment of drivers and fast response times, Zimmer told the audience. He added that when taxis are driven by robots, leveling the playing field as far as response times and price, the service Lyft provides will make the company stand out.

And Zimmer said Lyft doesn’t see the value in investing in China to the extent that Uber has. Instead, Lyft earlier this year teamed up with Didi Chuxing, Uber’s biggest foe in China. Nevertheless, it’s “very likely” that Lyft will do business in other countries, he said.

Read Fortune’s coverage of Zimmer’s talk here.

 Photo: Lyft users show the app on their mobile phones. (Lyft)


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  • papakurt

    Bleeding money at this rate, we may soon be rid of one ride sharing pain in the behind.

  • whatever

    John Zimmer is apparently an idiot. When faced with Uber Pool, he responded with Lyft Line, playing KMART to WALMART instead of playing Nordstroms, a company women love for its high quality and wonderful customer service that Nordy’s uses to support higher prices. So Lyft got a race to the bottom over prices instead of higher prices supported by better service.

    He’s not going to survive long enough to see taxis driven by robots and the low payments to drivers will ensure his drivers find Lyft their only way to earn money with no other employment possible, and it will ensure a shortage of drivers, the cure of which will be for him to pay higher and higher incentive rewards to new drivers.

    The ONLY interesting thing about the article is the unasked question: how long do Kalanick and Zimmer see robot taxis? 1 year? 3 years? 5? 10?

    • Richard King

      I agree,I’m a Lyft driver and can honestly say that the Lyft line is a joke,I can’t make any money off those rides.

  • Julia Sanders

    Lyft might be losing millions, however the company is sustainable enough to keep on coming up with great promotions and special offers. Looks like Lyft is attracting new drivers. Take for instance the latest Express Drive Program designed in cooperation with General Motors This seems to be an amazing a car rental offer with flexible terms for drivers.