US ride-hailing firm Lyft filling tank with cash as value revs

Lyft’s new Amp glows on the dashboard of a car in San Francisco.

A fruitful funding round has bumped Lyft’s value to $7.5 billion, as the ride-hailing company drives to gain ground on scandal-rocked rival Uber, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Lyft is closing a $500 million funding round in which it saw its valuation sharply spike from about $5.5 billion in previous rounds, according to the paper.

When contacted by AFP, Lyft declined to comment but did not dispute the accuracy of the Wall Street Journal report.

As Uber was dented by controversies in recent months, on-demand ride rival Lyft accelerated expansion and set out to pick up converts by casting itself as a friendlier, more sympathetic alternative.

Uber has been rocked by allegations of sexism, cut-throat workplace tactics and covert use of law enforcement-evading software.

Both companies let people summon rides using smartphone apps, but Lyft has cultivated a reputation as a more socially responsible and driver-friendly version of the service.

Ad campaign

Lyft even mocked Uber in an advertising campaign late last year, depicting leaders of an imaginary “RideCorp” firm that appeared to be a reference to its market-leading competitor.

Lyft also took a stand in January against US President Donald Trump’s first anti-immigration executive order, announcing a million-dollar donation to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fund legal opposition.

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick was meanwhile on track to be part of a Trump business advisory group. A movement grew to dump the ride-sharing service because of his connection to the administration.

Kalanick quit the group, putting out word in an email to employees that the move was not meant as an “endorsement of the president or his agenda.”

Lyft saw downloads of its mobile application climb as a “#DeleteUber campaign picked up speed on Twitter.

Uber executives have contended that despite the campaign that got traction on social media, growth is accelerating, with new riders joining and existing users taking more trips.

Lyft was founded in 2012, three years after Uber, and is also based in San Francisco but is smaller.

While Uber has expanded internationally, Lyft has concentrated mostly on the US.

Early this year, Lyft expanded to a hundred more US cities, bringing the total to about 300.

Lyft is reported to have raised more than $2 billion in overall funding, with the roster of investors including General Motors, Alibaba, and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding.


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