Lyft has hired its first strategy chief to help it wage its long-standing war with Uber.
The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company announced on Thursdsay that it has hired Raj Kapoor as chief strategy officer and named Melissa Waters vice president of marketing.
This is the first time Lyft has named a chief strategy officer, and it looked to someone with Lyft experience for the role: Kapoor is the cofounder and former CEO of Snapfish and later led Lyft’s Series A round at Mayfield Fund. He served on Lyft’s board until 2014.
The company wrote in a blog post that Kapoor will focus on company strategy and new growth opportunities.
Kapoor’s hiring comes at a crucial time for Lyft, which was most recently valued at $5.5 billion. The company reportedly rebuffed a $6 billion acquisition offer from GM in August, with numerous reports at the time saying the company wanted as much as $9 billion. It had been reportedly approached by several buyers — including its main competitor, Uber.
At the time, Lyft president John Zimmer told Business Insider that the company was not seeking a buyer, but had been approached with acquistion offers several times throughout its history.
“That’s happened multiple times throughout our business,” Zimmer said at the time. “It’s actually more of a normal course of business than has been portrayed, and of course we have to review anything that’s of legitimate interest.”
In August, Uber told investors it has between 84% and 87% of the US market share. Recent data shows that’s still the case: Uber is still beating Lyft by significant margins in every major US city, and both companies continue to spend millions of dollars in driver and rider subsidies to beat the other.
In 2015, Lyft posted an operating loss of $360 million on revenue of about $200 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report from early August. While Lyft expects to double revenue this year — up to around $450 million — it also expects to post an operating loss of more than $200 million, the Journal reported.
Lyft argues it isn’t bleeding money — that it’s spending money in order to gain market share. The company told Forbes in May that its market share has grown 70% in the last year in the top 20 cities nationwide, and that seven of those cities are doing 500,000 rides each month.
But with Uber freed up in China after it merged its Chinese business with ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, it will have renewed money and energy to focus on its business in Southeast Asia and the US — meaning it’s time for Lyft to ramp things up, too.
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