« The Tony Robbins Podcast

It matters how you get there | Lyft co-founder John Zimmer on reinventing the transportation experience

2018-03-08 | 🔗

In this episode, we are continuing our Inside Business Mastery series with an exclusive interview between Tony and John Zimmer: the co-founder and president of the massively popular ride-sharing service Lyft.

2017 was a banner year for Lyft. The San Francisco-based company expanded its coverage to 95% of the United States. And the number of rides per year reached a staggering 375.5 million, which is particularly impressive when you consider that the number was just 162.5 million in 2015.

Part of that explosive growth can credited towards gaining more market share from its biggest competitor. When customers saw Lyft’s values-first, passion over profits motives, many opted out of the dominant ride-sharing platform to start supporting the company with a social purpose. But for Zimmer, it’s not about unseating the competition. It’s about becoming a viable alternative to your own car, and ultimately, reinventing the entire transportation landscape.

Tony and John dive into John’s roots in the hospitality industry, the big problem with the existing transportation infrastructure, and how he’s on a mission to create a better service for everyone. Because disrupting the transportation industry is just the beginning - Lyft is set to pave a new path forward when it comes to how we see our vehicles, how we share rides, and how we can ultimately create a new network of transportation that is all about efficiency.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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service left. Two thousand seventeen was a banner year for left. The San Francisco Bay Company expanded its coverage to ninety five percent of America. The number of rights per year reached a staggering three hundred and seventy five million, which is really impressive. When you consider that the number was dishonour and sixty two million in two thousand fifteen just two years ago, part of that explosive growth, can be credited toward gaining more market share from its biggest competitor, because when customer saw that lift had a values, first, passion over profit motive, many opted out of the dominant ride, sharing platform to start supporting the company with social purpose, but for dinner, it's not about unseating the competition, it's about becoming a viable alternative to your own car and ultimately reinventing the entire transportation landscape. So in this episode, Tony talks, John about how they're making all of that happen and John opens up about his roots in the hospitality industry. The big problem with the existing transportation
restructure and how he's on a mission to create a better service for everyone how do you think so make the time and crazy busy you are and what you're building we had a chance to me just brief, lay at the warriors game. There today was really nice. Tell us, you know when people think of right sharing, they think of two companies. Obviously even a group called over You actually started this before over under a different name. Didn't you tell me about your journey? How did this beginning when you first yes attend- years ago. My co founder and I started a company called Zimrud. My co founder. Logan grew up in our lay hating traffic, and he took a trip to Bob what we do know each other at the time he took a trip, does Bob Way and he saw people sharing rides out of necessity, not inspired our building websites. He called Zimrud again, not knowing me, even though my last name is admirable. You kidding world. So my my my background, I grew up on the EAST coast, so
born in New York, rope in Connecticut eyes and I loads making people so as a young kid. I wanted to be a magician because that's what made people happy? and then my mom would take me to don't get doughnuts every week and it may be happy so I gotta maple frosted doughnuts. I want to be a dead man, and then I realized tat my interest for entrepreneurship and making people happy fit well and hospitality, so the age of sixteen, working in a hotel as a phone operator, and then I went to Coronel Hotel School, to study, hospitality and and then by my senior year I took a class and city planning and I have This amazing professor and his first lecturers, the history of the world and about forty minutes- and here I want to go to this lecture- is phenomenal. He. He basically said what a really important turning point in world history were. History were population density is rising rapidly, more more people,
removing the cities and the infrastructures that we have in our cities were built decades ago before there is this many people there and then he said, if you don't do something about this infrastructure we're, gonna have a major economic, environmental and social problem, and he said if you will make my class the most important thing do this semester. I do want to teach you maybe left and I was pretty inspired- I obviously went back- is a lecture was on transportation history? In the? U S, they talked about the evolution from canals to railroads the highways and started thinking what would be next and I couldn't figure out what the next physical infrastructure would be, because there are so many cars and so many roads and and kind of paved over spaces in our country. So then, I felt what, if you apply the principles of hospitality to this existing infrastructure, and so you have two hundred. Fifty million where's in United States and their mostly not used four per cent of the title of ninety six percent of the time set on the foam, and yet he s only four percent occupancy as a whole has a hotel person. I think about occupancy. If you do it on the seats bases, its one percent of the time
the seats are being used well and so you have horrible occupancy and you have really high costs. The average american household spends nine thousand dollars every year owning in operating a car. The only thing can spend more money on is the house itself, and so I said That's that's poorly run, hotel transportation hotel. So, let's fix it lets lower the costs. That's increase the occupants. Inlets create a better service for everyone. How the junior partner me We had a mutual friend on Facebook. I was writing a business plan for this idea, a mark, plan and business plan, and was Lehman brothers at the time by the way, my friends. Mother when I was gonna leave said you shouldn't leave ashore. Like Lehman Brothers Sally Carbon is around. That She's said that my I was thinking. Maybe I could do this full time and I'm on face one night and Logan posts to meet your friends. Facebook about account check out this website, I'm working on called Zimrud,
and I reached out to our mutual friend in and said hot. You know login, and why the hell did he call as companies them right. That's where we met ten years ago, we started working together. Now he will use the best man in my wedding he's we're neighbors and we ve been working together for ten years demands both beautiful, that's wonderful, wonderful, tell us when people see overnight success as they think of it. Right is clearly not overnight success ever what we're somebody We challenge that it's just take off clearly didn't consumer. I didn't why did Zimrud not working than what was the shift that you made to you, where you are too that yes, we spent five years three which we didn't. We can take a salary. We were living in apartment working out of an apartment, and Zeb right wasn't taking off about we were so passionate. What was the difference between the pieces of them right in terms of the conceit of it, but that is what you do today. So Semite was for long distance carpet so my college campuses, upstate New York and I want to go to New York City- and I have three extra seats-
my car and I can seldom for twenty dollars each girl- and so was a infrequent use case compared to lift, which is a very frequent use case. You can use a multiple times, every that that's the biggest difference so a lot of trial and failure for the first five years, but we never change then the mission and so the mission, today's improve people's lies with the world's best transportation. We stay true too, that the entire time, and so it's persistence of FIFA. Okay, so maybe about years ago we say what, if we were starting over today, what would it look like, and I think that something helpful to do every few years- just stop and say we have all these baggage of existing business, but just for mental exercise. If we were going take everything we have learned and start over fresh. What would it look like, and we came up with this idea about the time we called it Zimrud instant, but I was so annoyed that ever kept thinking on the company after myself psychiatry let's try something else. Let's try and an internationally came up with a name, lift and
and then that without was an experiment and it was very risky, me at the time goober had launched before we launch lift, but they were doing but cars. The most. So no one had done anything with personal vehicles before and there you know two things you're paying more during sharing either where they about time I'm up with the idea about any multiple people in the same car which lifeline but your parents. When your kids tell you two things don't take rides with strangers. I don't take candy from strangers and we were trying to get me what to do both, because our drivers had lots of times gum that they are giving out to their path. So you Bilbil trust. There was one of the questions. I wonder how to to go from something. It goes against the grain like that. How do you do that? So the first thing we it is we sat in a car few of us in others, probably twenty people at the time in the company in three or four of our sat in a car and thought about the social norms that had been created and if you think about
if you re, Rhine five years where the idea of lift is, is crazy, but people were comfortable getting into a car that was painted, yellow right, a taxi gas or a car that was black over forty percent, so we had to create a lift. It had be different than a hundred accord. We had to create an identity and we wanted to pursue personify the vehicle we wanted to make people smile at the same time and create kind of order, mouth marketing and so mustache was an idea. Is that it's so absurd that and we're not hiding that it will get people to talk about it and hopefully when they talk about it, they'll hear more about what we do at the beginning. Before there were regulations for what we did, we did criminal background checks. We did driving record checks and we had a million dollar insurance policy on every driver for every ride, and so we new safety was critical, but we also wanted to create an entirely new experience, and so, in the early days we called it will lift your friend with
car, because that was something people were used to my friend with a car pick me up at college or picks up, and it gives me a right that that was less of a jump than then. I think what we are actually doing long before this took off it was kind of a field where some of the challenges that Europe, because you five years, basically obviously with them, and then you make the ship s question How did you know it's time to make a chef? Just? How long should someone stay on with? What's not working yeah we're does persistence. Drop off in word is intelligence. Dropping from your perspective, yes, this case. Within the first month we had to create a weightless for passenger demand. We didn't have enough drivers to fit all the demand we were getting so is very different from Zimrud. And but the scary thing was, there was a lot of legal questions and there is, as you know, a lot of challenges office in building any business. I had a headache for a month literally, I went to the door here to see what was what was going on in terms of stress of
realising that I needed to let go of of them right and we needed to make a hard decision and say we're going to stop, because we were so passion about making it work. And so we we eventually but really just change the offer to some extent right for Spain can see yeah, but we had a hundred and fifty clients that we were selling to universities in companies as kind of replacing their bulletin board that they had for sharing rides with an online system that they are paying us, maybe ten thousand dollars, a year for so we had to either shut it down I don't wanna, let down the client or sell it. We ended up selling it too Prize Rent, a car in the money went into the left bank account earners and the whip. Tell us about two point: six billion in funding you're worth now valued at seven point. Five billion is that right commands with others, put extraordinary, unbelievable
When did you first? Nor did you sell London the beginning, when did you start to bring capital in order to decide when you were going to do that and how to deal with the ideas of what solution might look like in self worth its like your psychology? Yes, so we re capitally entire time from from investors. So We probably raise about ten million twenty million dollars for four zimrud and then with lift about three years ago, so lift as five years. But three years ago we had raised if it like significant money couple hundred million dollars, but we had about a hundred million dollars left in the bank and at that current burn rate at the time about five months left and overhead thirty times the amount of cash is us and they were trying to kill us with capital that was the most precarious moment, because we had had some success and there is a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves to continue to deliver on this mission and we had different kind of values and way about it than than our competitor but
we're trying to shut us out with capital, and so I went out on the road for about a year and a quest to raise a billion dollars in and ended up doing it for a nurse but others amazing. What was this? Could you raising it if you had to pick up on things tat? What major success on raising the capital is actually goes out to raise another realities and are a lot of proven principles out there over was already up and running. Obviously, this point right. So what was this good for you, yet it I did a secret on on raising capital and n. You know the persistence that we ve how at the business was just we cared so much. We cared so much and we care so much now about taking care of the people involved in our business and delivering. The mission and that's why we're doing we're not doing it for the money, we're not doing it for anything else. We want to deliver on this mission and beautiful domain, and I know that
There are, you know, you might think, there's and there are a lot of investors that just care about money that those exists, but there are people that that see that, and here the and believe in that and in one invest in and that's that's how I got the same core from the beginning. You we're, like people, make a monopoly there. What's the worldview papers was your partner and how, guy's going either. Yes, so my co founder is our ceo and on the president, we both colleagues the company he he too, to build the world's best transportation. We believe they need both technology and hospitality, so he focuses on the technology and focus on the hospitality, so that could mean marketing communications on my side, government relations and on his side, product and engineering and an operations what's been wandered through the biggest challenges that you guys have dealt with success, we amounted to figure out the solutions. I'd say that the two were the the legal question, the regulatory quest,
in around lifted and the fund raising peace, and so the first one, the regulatory peace. We had this board meeting of Zimrud at the time, and we said hey, we want to do this. We have this idea, we're gonna pick people up and other people's cars and the boys dislike wide wide open like what is wrong with you guys and an end. They even question whether people would do it, and so we said look we believe people will do this and we're going to solve for the regulatory environment in a self regulate ourselves. Basically put all these, as I mentioned, are these safety requirements on ourselves? I was one of the way we software, because then, when we got, I guess in the first couple months of lift, we received several cease and desist orders from the local government from the California state government competing with a taxi observers or yeah yeah. So there wasn't a regular regulatory category for what we were doing, and so they said that we were not legal There is underlying you, no questions about was it because we are being competitive with this attacks in this
and so we went into the regulators, and I said here's what we're doing here is why we care about it: here's the safety standards that we're doing anyway and You know I just want to understand our you concerned about us competing within existing industry, or are you trying to protect public safety and they said public safety, and then I had a piece of paper ass, a great here's, what you require of taxes in the most in hero, here's, what we do in the majority of which was much more significant than what your requiring on the other and economic goods to turn around I'd say. A good year year and a half with more those headache years, yet had other headaches from that. There is definitely moments where it could have on the other. We tell us what the difference between right would. Somebody wanna use over verses, lift with the different in your culture. The way you look at things, how do you differentiate and also have you have waited some of the conflict since over the media? They ask us that offers unfortunate how to go to
for their business. Yes, so we we have some really important key values within within the company, and what with that, where that's felt by the customer is that we care a lot about the people that are involved in our business. That starts with our team members, which are what we call our employees that extends to our drivers and then to our passengers, the passengers, the ultimate customer, but if we don't take care of our employees and if we don't take care of our drivers and they're gonna, get a bad experience and not to us is obvious that that's kind of the hospitality. You know concept,
from the beginning, and so that comes out in many different ways. So, on the driver side, you know we ve been evaded on products that allows drivers to get paid in the same day were the first to do that. It took them over a year to our competitor over to get that we were the first to offer vehicle rentals for drivers that didn't have vehicles are dont want to use their vehicle on the platform over was doing three year kind of predatory loans, leases for their drivers in ways that that's not what's best for drivers and so there's. While the hundred examples like that of things where we said what's best for drivers, will no longer be best for our customers and then four left and I think that's that's paying off. Let's talk about no drivers, yet you know one of the concerns I haven't. We have some little brands condemn on this, and so forth is what's happening. Work you know a lie around the world has changed its not just blue collar jobs. It's gonna fact: high collar white collar jobs. Here but specifically, five million people, but are over drivers that are lift robbers, reacted drivers that truck drivers. What happens? We will ensure timing
on going driverless, and how does that affect the drivers that you have currently what you're mindset is they're gonna be room for both we will want to driver were genes. We, I think, I'm one. I think that's right so one I think you'll never be a need for less people in cars, whether their drivers are hosts going for it. I don't think I think we'll need a lot more people in jobs that are in within weeks when we require homestead. Yes, so I an analysis of the timeline as well. I think this will play out over the next twenty years and when hidden in the night within the next ten years, I think car ownership will become mostly optional in our cities.
In five years you could see the majority of our rights being done on an in an economy is lift. But lifting Neuber combined today account for just point four percent of miles travel to the United States. Just point four percent: we believe that's going to go to about eighty percent of miles travel. There no states will happen on a network which was what we call ourselves transportation network and so over that time, and we have a few kind of growing parts of our business, not emergency medical transportation. We will always have someone helping someone else get into the car. Will you know will have family travel and then I think for higher occupancy vehicles. You nothing about it as a bus or shadow. I think you ll actually have rooms on wheels, so you can imagine a cafe on wheels. You can imagine, movie theatre on wheels. All those experiences you're going to want people involved in as a company focus on hospitality were absolutely going to want to take care of the people that helped us get where we've gotten and a dad humanity into every experience so, which is zero point four percent of miles traveled today, Lyft in Uber, as we go
or the eighty percent. You know whether we get fully there. If it's what we predict or even halfway there you're gonna need a lot more people involved in that transportation. I know right now, if you look at Tesla their collecting data for big data better than anybody else, because every one of those cars is going and understand. I live in Florida and there are going to vote on a war on supposedly estate was agreed to by the population next year. You can push the button in Europe. Does that will start to operate itself? What's the timing for you, what are you guys looking out before we start to introduce these travellers cars so we'll have pilots even starting a thing at the end of this year, with with companies that are going to launch their their product on our part from so we can serve as but just the network where others take their take
Jane right and left him, then our customers are able to get access to Adobe pilots this year and next year. I think arguing with so even on the agenda. This year's new Ptolemy. We we confirm that we're working with way more, which is the autonomous units within Google. We want. Our big investors is General motors, so there's their several partners were working with on this and then we also recently announced a programme. We're gonna, be building. Parts of the autonomous system are self and that's that's critical, because there is a lot of letters to this technology stock, there's maps, there's perception and there's the hardware and so becoming exports ourselves and making sure we have leverage in all those conversations and other paths in case someone wants to hold their technology for themselves is important, so don't disapproving worked. Where do you see where you see we have five years from now on, we obviously
if its point for your story of growth is still a great great story of growth in the address more money. Where do you see the business five years ago? Yes, so I think where people thought at the beginning to days this is funny company with moustaches, and maybe it's a taxi replacement. It's gonna be in five. Remove a lot closer to this idea of being a full replacement to car ownership rights. So is still. People are still used cars, but why would you want to pay retail for parking for insurance for fuel for all these things and use of space at your house and get your garage back because we can have a car outside Europe?
However, you needed, were you know within it within a minute or two, and so I'd say or you know, will go from that point four percent to somewhere on the path to that eighty percent of miles travelled and in doing so, people will subscribe to live plants. Just like you have a miles plan on eighteen t. I'm sorry minutes. Planet agency in Verizon, you have a mile- is plan on on left. Instead of getting your music used to buy in cities and dvds, and now it's streaming, transportation will become a service, and that will be a big part of our business and what for different? For someone from the estimates, if they're gonna decide they're gonna get rid of her car accidents are probably travel, but if they decide that are going to use more of these services lift day of life of you yet argued about. Yes, absolutely. I think people are starting to do this already that they're the same. Maybe I don't need a second car, because.
Times when they got a second car. There is solving for those extra use cases where they didn't want to be stuck, and you can easily do that now, I'm so the average american household spends nine thousand dollars per year per vehicle and so our lifeline product, which is a shared right. If, if you know myself in you request to ride to the airport, we could be matched together and get a lower cost that, on average cost less than nine dollars lets a sob. Or a dollar? But let's use nine dollars for easy math. You can get a thousand rides a year. Instead of that nine thousand dollars you spend on owning an operating a car. Now I dont think most people think about all the expenses that go into coroner ship. They think about that two hundred, all our car payment but the insurance and not all of racial. We're gonna have to do some education about the true cost of cargo ship and provide the alternative. What do you think is going to be the next big challenge that you're gonna have to face organization?
So, where are hitting a new scale, we're just about two thousand people at the company, and I think you know mate, maintaining culture which we, which has been the thing, that we have done, that I'm pretty most proud of within the organisation and moving fast as we get bigger will become harder, and so I think those are the things that were in a keep our eyes and how do you filter at this stage, so that you keep that culture? Is a company gets that big? What what are the two or three things you do because, as you know it you get larger, gets heart yeah. I saw you talking about ownership, that's really critical to us and that really important ass going forward is there's no time for someone to say you know what that so and so's you know jobs it so and so a line of business it was on them like we were we're trying to cut any any instance of that out, because one we it helps us move more quickly and it and it ensures that the people you know get get things done or you built already of amazing are river excitedly,
more went ass for questions, the audits that we bring our next because out. Thank you. Take it for granted, with whom I have a normal drawn between about its past, his directed attested by Tony Robins in New York internal director and occasional host. Our executive producer is carry some Jimmy carve a home the letters special thanks, our digital editors, special thanks to for their Diana cock for their creative review.
Transcript generated on 2020-04-04.