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Lyft Experimented With Local Delivery but Decided Against It

A few retailers approached Lyft to see if it would be open to delivery partnerships.


Lyft is doubling down on its core product.

The ride-hailing company flirted with but decided against going into the local delivery market, Lyft Chief Technology Officer Chris Lambert told Re/code. With this move, Lyft is crafting a strategy that diverges from its larger rival, Uber, which is striking deals with small and large retailers to offer delivery services to expand beyond shuttling passengers.

Three sources have told Re/code that at least a few retailers approached Lyft to learn whether the company would be open to doing delivery. Lyft performed a few small tests — such as its stunt delivery of Starbucks iced coffee — but did not pursue anything further.

“It would be irresponsible to not look at it,” Lambert said. “But there’s a big difference between doing a fun test and doing delivery.” He said that although he couldn’t speak for Lyft’s long-term future, the company has no current plans to pursue local delivery.

Instead, it is focusing on expanding and improving its original service and its carpooling product, Lyft Line. Earlier this year, Lyft confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News that it also was not planning an international expansion. The company has raised one-fifth the venture capital funding that Uber has — Lyft has $1 billion compared to Uber’s more than $5 billion — and plans to focus on a few key objectives to avoid overextending itself.

Lyft could be missing out on potential new business. Some companies we spoke with would prefer to work with Lyft — which they deemed more trustworthy than Uber — for their delivery needs. One founder told Re/code that Uber approached them for a delivery partnership and they turned it down, but if Lyft had been the option, “The deal would already be done.”

Although Uber has benefitted financially from its competitiveness, its cutthroat reputation might hurt it when it comes to expanding into the local delivery market.

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