Like Airbnb scraping Craigslist in its early days, it’s great to see the sharing economy get old-school down and dirty to get ahead.
Lyft, a San Francisco-based ride-sharing startup, on Monday released data that said employees of rival Uber have ordered and canceled more than 5,000 Lyft rides nationwide since October. In an e-mailed statement, Erin Simpson, a spokeswoman for Lyft, called the situation “unfortunate,” as requests for rides that don’t take place “wastes a driver’s time and impacts the next passenger waiting for that driver.”
Lyft made the allegations on the same day that it re-introduced a commission that it charges drivers. The company in April had suspended the fees it takes, in a bid to attract more drivers to join its service. Lyft said today it will now take a 20 percent commission on every ride this week, with drivers receiving a bonus at the end of the week depending on the number of hours they worked.
The moves underscore the deepening rivalry between Lyft and Uber as the companies duel one another in the burgeoning mobile rides market and also try and sustain their businesses. Both startups, which let consumers order rides from their smartphones, are trying to recruit new drivers to expand their services and are rolling out their operations in more cities. The rivalry has spurred tactics including the offer of incentives to poach one another’s drivers and debuting similar services at the same time.
Last week, the two companies started new features that let passengers share a ride with other passengers who are going in the same direction.
“We recently ran a program where thousands of riders recruited drivers from other platforms, earning hundreds of dollars in Uber credits for each driver who tries Uber,” wrote Nairi Hourdajian, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Uber, in an e-mail. “Even Lyft drivers have participated in a successful campaign recruiting thousands of other Lyft drivers to Uber, where drivers make a better living than on any other platform.”
Lyft’s allegations of canceled rides by Uber employees was earlier reported by CNN Money.
Uber operates in more cities and has raised more funding than Lyft. Uber is in more than 90 U.S. cities and 42 countries, while Lyft is in at least 68 U.S. cities and isn’t available internationally. In April, Lyft raised $250 million from investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Uber in June raised $1.2 billion at a $17 billion valuation.
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