Home Earth To Lyft CEO: Lyft Line May Be A Success, But It’s No Platform

Earth To Lyft CEO: Lyft Line May Be A Success, But It’s No Platform

When San Francisco–based Lyft launched its Lyft Line service earlier this year, the company was fulfilling its original promise: to improve public transportation through carpooling. Now, six months later, Lyft Line comprises most of the company’s rides in its home city—spurring CEO Logan Green to proclaim that the promise has morphed into a successful platform. 

According to Green, Line’s success took off even before the company launched its $3 “Match MUNI” deal. But after the discount program, the carpooling service became the significant majority of rides. “We see Lyft Line as a platform we build on,” he said, during his South By Southwest keynote Monday. “The things we can do are really exciting.” 

When asked to name examples he referenced a new feature called driver destination, which allows Lyft drivers to tell the app where they’re headed. That way, they can do rides en route to work, home, or errands, without going too far out of their way. It’s a feature Lyft copied off Sidecar, which Green conveniently forgot to mention, even as he chastised Uber for copying Lyft with UberX, the competitor’s own take on carpooling. 

See also: Uber Is Waging A Vicious, Spy-Tech Ground War Against Lyft

Not so fast. While it’s easy to understand Green’s enthusiasm—he says Lyft Line now accounts for most of the company’s rides in its home city—but he’s stretching the term “platform” a bit. 

Unlike Uber, Lyft doesn’t offer public APIs (application programming interfaces), so it’s not a traditional platform off which developers can build. The company itself may be creating new products and services to suit its customers, but it’s not a true platform until it allows others to do so.

Green and his co-founder John Zimmer haven’t explained why there’s no public Lyft API yet. Since Uber has the head start on this, it can strike deals and partnerships with companies like restaurants and hotels to incorporate the “request a ride” button into their apps. Given Uber’s cutthroat competitiveness with Lyft, it’s likely that these deals will restrict partners from working with Lyft in the future. 

See also: What APIs Are And Why They’re Important

But Lyft just raised another round of funding, a $530 million Series E, to help it grow. Perhaps we’ll be seeing a Lyft API sooner rather than later. 

Photos by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.