Lyft has announced that tech industry veteran executive and Lyft board member David Risher will become the ride hailing company’s new CEO on April 17.
“When the search committee asked me to consider this role, at first I was gobsmacked,” Risher says. “But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the competitive spirit I learned at Microsoft, the customer obsession I learned at Amazon and the do-more-with-less lessons I learned leading Worldreader are exactly what Lyft needs right now.
“I am honored to step into the CEO role at such an important moment in the company’s history,” Risher says, “and am prepared to take this business to new levels of success.”
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Longtime leaders CEO Logan Green and president John Zimmer, who co-founded Lyft in 2012, will transition into non-executive roles as chair and vice chair of the Lyft board. Green’s transition happens April 17 while Zimmer’s happens June 30.
“Building Lyft with John over the last 16 years has been the adventure of a lifetime,” Green says. “All founders eventually find the right moment to step back and the right leaders to take their company forward.
“In a field of accomplished candidates, David stood head and shoulders above the rest. As a member of the board, he knows both the challenges and opportunities ahead,” Green says. “Leaders in our industry who worked with David affirmed that he’s a customer-obsessed leader who drives hard.”
Early in his career, Risher was a general manager at Microsoft before joining Amazon in 1997. Risher “helped lead [Amazon] from an online bookstore with $15 million in annual sales to the ‘everything store’ with over $4 billion in sales,” according to Lyft.
Risher later co-founded Worldreader, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose mission is to improve reading outcomes in children ages 3-12. Risher has been CEO of Worldreader since 2009. He joined Lyft’s board in 2021.
Lyft says it chose Risher following a “thorough search process” conducted by the Lyft board, with help from an executive search firm.
Banking on Lyft Pink
The CEO announcement follows a strong fourth quarter for the company. Lyft reported revenue of $1.2 billion for the last three months of 2022, up 21% year over year and 12% higher than third-quarter revenues. Lyft also reported a Q4 adjusted EBITDA of $126.7 million.
However, the first quarter of this year looks less promising. Lyft anticipates Q1 revenues to reach only about $975 million, a decline of more than $200 million from the fourth quarter of 2022. Lyft also expects adjusted EBITDA to fall to between $5 million and $15 million in the first three months of this year.
“This is obviously not the level of growth or profitability we are aiming for or capable of,” Green says in a recent quarterly earnings call. “And we are laser-focused on driving additional growth and managing costs.”
Both Uber and Lyft anticipate gross bookings to grow 20-24% year over year in the current quarter. At Uber, part of that optimism lies with the outlook for travel and the success of Uber’s latest offerings, including Uber Reserve, a feature that allows users to pre-book trips up to 30 days in advance.
Meanwhile Lyft says it is investing in Lyft Pink, a $9.99 monthly membership that is a key focus for the company. Lyft last year partnered with Chase to offer it is as a benefit; Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders received two years of free Lyft Pink, Zimmer says in the call.
“In Q4, we expanded our relationship with Chase,” Zimmer says, “giving their millions of card members access to Lyft Pink and to accelerated points or cash back when they use Lyft through 2024.
“With this partnership,” Zimmer says, “we can introduce millions of people to Pink, increase our touch points with business travelers and capture more high-value rides.”
Also, Green says, by integrating services for car owners into the Lyft app, including roadside assistance, parking and maintenance, “we can deliver even more value to the roughly 75% of Lyft riders who have a car” and “capture more of consumers’ transportation spend.”