Uber and Lyft clash in war of words. Is this how tech disputes are settled?(Read article summary)
In a clash of words, Lyft and Uber lob accusations at each other in what is shaping up to be one of the fiercest battles in the tech industry.
Yolanda M. James/The Commercial Appeal/AP/File
Everyone's favorite tech transportation rivalry seems to be turning sour.
In the battle to become the dominant ride-sharing company, Uber and Lyft have been launching a series of accusations at one another, each side accusing the other of sabotage. Since last October, 177 Uber employees have reportedly canceled more than 5,000 rides from Lyft drivers, presumably in a ploy to disturb Lyft's business, according to data obtained from Lyft by CNNMoney.
The data shared with CNN by Lyft notes that certain Uber employees have created multiple Lyft accounts, from which they have canceled Lyft rides. For example, one Lyft passenger, identified by Lyft drivers as an Uber recruiter, had as many as 21 different accounts and canceled 1,524 rides, CNN reports.
These types of fake requests, CNN notes, can damage Lyft's reputation as well as infringe on Lyft drivers' time and money, which would be wasted driving to a passenger who ends up not actually being there. In addition, CNN cites Lyft drivers as saying that Uber passengers take "short, low-profit rides" in which they try to convince Lyft drivers to jump ship and work for Uber.
In response, Uber denied these allegations. In a statement to The New York Times, an Uber representative called Lyft's claims "baseless and simply untrue." The statement added that Lyft drivers have also taken part in these hostile tactics, canceling 12,900 Uber trips. "These attacks from Lyft are unfortunate but somewhat expected," the statement reads, further noting that Lyft investors have been pushing for Uber to acquire Lyft. Uber did not tell the Times how it reached its statistics on canceled trips nor did it say how it learned that Lyft was involved with the cancellations.
In this fierce battle for market share, Uber has even resorted to subsidizing cheaper rides for customers in cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, paying drivers more than what customers paid for the ride. It's an example that in this clash, Uber seems to have the upper hand when it comes to finances and name recognition. Lyft, founded in 2012, was recently valued at around $700 million in a financing round, while Uber, founded in 2009, was valued at $17 billion.
In another example of heavy-handed tactics, CNN reported earlier this month that Uber had told its New York City drivers that they were not allowed to drive for another company, citing regulations from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to back up its claim. However, the taxi commission refuted this claim, according to CNN.
Last month, Lyft expanded its operations into New York City but faced legal hurdles because of requirements stipulating that Lyft drivers needed to be licensed by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission – regulations that Uber had already been following. It was further evidence of yet another party that has a stake in these disruptive technologies: taxi drivers.
Recent months have seen a string of protests staged by cab drivers over ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. In June, for example, more than 30,000 cab and limo drivers clogged the streets of major European cities in a mass protest against Uber.