Lyft COO Out After Tensions With Founders
According to sources close to the situation, Lyft COO Travis VanderZanden has left his job, after some level of tension with its founders. Apparently, he was seeking more power, but did not win it.
Sources close to the situation said the exec, who came to the ride-sharing company after it acquired his on-demand car wash service Cherry last year, said that VanderZanden was not the right fit for the company going forward. Lyft is using Cherry’s officeless expansion scaling model into its operations.
That said, VanderZanden was an experienced exec, who had been chief revenue officer at Yammer before Cherry.
[Update: Lyft confirmed the departure in a statement to me. “Eighteen months ago, Travis joined the Lyft team as part of the Cherry acquisition to help scale our operations. We’ve talked about the future and all agree that Travis will move on as we move forward into the company’s next chapter of growth. We appreciate everything he’s done here, and wish him the best in his next adventure.”
It is unclear what specific issues he had with CEO Logan Green and President John Zimmer, but such management wrangling is common in fast-growing companies as teams are formed (and often de-formed). Facebook, for example, went through a number of top execs before co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hired COO Sheryl Sandberg. VanderZanden apparently wanted more control of Lyft going forward.
Externally, things are a lot hotter. Lyft has been recently involved in a rather heated — and somewhat bizarre — public spat with its chief rival Uber.
Even as both face intense challenges from the taxi industry and also local government regulators, the pair have been sniping over a range of issues, including the poaching of drivers. Uber claimed that Lyft offered itself for sale too.
Both recently debuted a new service that lets users carpool with people who are taking similar routes in return for a significant discount, called, respectively, Lyft Line and UberPool.
At the time of the announcement about Lyft Line, the San Francisco-based company also said it had 60,000 total drivers in 65 cities, 25 million users and had done more than 10 million rides.
The company has raised $333 million from high-profile investors, including Andreessen Horowitz.
I have contacted the company’s PR reps for a statement and am awaiting a response.