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Lyft Taps Snaptu Founder Who Helped Create as VP of Growth

Lyft has hired Snaptu founder and former Facebook staffer Ran Makavy to start a new team at the company as the vice president of growth.


Ran Makavy, a self-described “efficiency freak,” has a stacked resume. An engineer at heart, Makavy started in the Israeli Air Force where he developed and deployed communications systems for several years. He then spent a number of years jumping from company to company in various engineering or consulting positions until in 2007 he founded Snaptu, a free mobile app platform.

Snaptu, which served as one of the building blocks for Facebook Lite and later the company’s controversial program, was acquired by Facebook in 2011. At Facebook, Makavy started as a growth manager, but eventually joined the team that spearheaded the company’s free-Internet-for-all program that was later renamed Free Basics.

Now, more than four years after Makavy joined Mark Zuckerberg in attempting to give even the poorest communities access to some parts of the Internet, the Snaptu founder is taking a stab at growing another business — this time, it’s transportation. After being introduced to Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green six or seven months ago, Makavy is joining the company to start and then head up a growth team as its vice president.

“Amazon doesn’t have a growth team, and Google doesn’t have a growth team, and they’re doing amazingly well,” Makavy told Re/code. “Lyft didn’t have a growth team; they had an on-boarding team. But we wanted to make it a slightly higher priority here so we can focus on growing the business and longer-term projects.”

Makavy’s first order of business is to start hiring a team of people whose primary responsibility will be to make Lyft’s driver and rider on-boarding more efficient.

“You have to build the muscle before you can do more stuff,” he said. “I’m looking for people who are excited about solving this problem. I’m going to start working on passenger and driver growth and taking them and making it better in order to do more stuff. We’ll look at things like, is it easy to onboard? Is there lots of friction? Half the effort is going to be on the product side, [to ensure that we are] supporting more edge cases. The other half is making it more efficient.”

The Facebook veteran, who says that, at 12,000 people, the entrepreneurial spirit at the social media company was not what it used to be, hopes to build out a robust, cross-functional growth team by the end of the year.

“[I’m going to hire] as much as Logan will allow me to,” he said. “My hope is to have about 100 people by the end of the year.”

The idea is the team will be comprised of staff from across functions such as engineering and product design, who will all work toward similar goals and on the same projects.

“My job is to see what it is we’re doing now, and how to do it faster and better, and grow both the customer base and the company,” he said. “One of the things when I think about growth is part of it is the product. If you build a product, you want to create as much value at a time, and remove the friction and any barriers as much as possible.”

Makavy is joined by Lyft’s new vice president of design, Henrique Penha, who spent the past four years at Apple working on industrial design.

Though Lyft only operates in the U.S. right now, the company has forged several partnerships with international companies as part of a larger global alliance. Though Makavy’s background makes him uniquely suited to lead the company’s charge into expanding in emerging and other international markets, he says it won’t be his primary focus to start.

“Lyft is obviously a partnership-driven company,” he said. “We’ll be working a lot with the partnerships with Didi, Grab and Ola. But not right away.”

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