John Zimmer - How Lyft Could Revolutionize Driverless Transportation

January 17, 2017 - John Zimmer 01/17/2017 Views: 1,249

John Zimmer, the co-founder and president of Lyft, talks about teaming up with General Motors to produce autonomous cars and explains the economic ramifications for drivers. (5:40)

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Please welcome John Zimmer.

(cheering and applause)

How are you, man?Welcome, man, welcome.

-Welcome to the show.-Thanks for having me.

Congratulations on, uh,

creating and disruptingbusiness as we know it.

Thank you.

How do you come up with Lyft?

And what kind of creepy personthinks it will be cool

for people to share carsand be strangers?

Yeah,so my-my cofounder and I

came at itfrom two different ways.

-So Logan grew up in LA,so he hates traffic. -Yeah.

And he wanted to find a wayto-to solve for traffic.

Uh, and I studied hospitality,uh, at Cornell,

and wanted to think about howcould you apply the principles

of hospitality, high occupancy

and great service,to transportation.

We actually only use our carsfour percent of the time,

and it costs us more moneythan anything,

except for the house.

So we saw a big opportunityto bring people together,

get people sharing rides,uh, with-with safety,

with criminal background checksand driving record checks.

Uh, and-and now we did over160 million rides last year.

Here-Here's what I... what I amgenuinely fascinated by,

in terms of the growthof the company.

-You've now teamed upwith GM. -Mm-hmm.

And you're developingdriverless cars, right?

And I know I'm oneof those people who goes,

"I love the idea, but whatdoes that actually mean?"

So, first of all, like, doI have to call them at the co...

'Cause you know, like, sometimesthe driver's not where they...

And then you're like,"Where are..." Is that, like,

a robot, now, that I'm talkingto? Is it, like...

(imitating robot):"No, I'm at the other corner."

Um, like... how-how is thatwhole thing gonna work?

Yeah, so, uh, we're...we're a few years off

from having autonomous carshave a real impact

-on-on how we get around.-Yeah.

Um, but-but I like to,you know, zoom out and say,

"Why are we doing this?"And-and the big...

the big reason whyis that it's a shame

our citiesare designed around cars.

You know, a majorityof our cities are paved over,

there's parking spotseverywhere,

there's roads everywhere.The more roads we build,

the more cars we get.Uh, and we started thinking

how could we change that,how could we design our cities

around people instead of cars?

And you startdown a path of, uh,

making transportation moreand more affordable for someone

versus owning a car and...

which costs about $9,000 a yearper household.

Autonomous vehicles areone of the ways that-that we can

get there, uh, and you canmake this more efficient.

Um, but it will be a compliment

to the drivers we haveon the platform as well.

Here-Here's the thing that-thatworries me sometimes, though.

Yes, people are spendinga lot of money on owning cars,

parking cars,and everything is paved over.

But then there are some peoplewho may be listening to you

going, "But what about my jobas a driver?

"So, I've just become a driver,

"and now you're sayingthere will be no more jobs

for drivers in this industry."

Is-Isn't that something that,you know...

I-I don't knowif it's a responsibility or not,

but as Lyft,as a... as a corporation,

do you... do you ever thinkof the ramifications of that?

Absolutely. And-and yes,it is a responsibility.

Uh, we wouldn't be doingwhat we're doing

if we didn't think it was a netpositive for-for the world.

And I thinkwe're about ten years away

from this impacting jobs.

And our hope--and the fact that, you know,

we're-we're happy we're in this,because if we're not in this,

we don't know what the othercompanies are gonna do.

Our record has shown we'vetaken care of drivers better

-than any other company.-Yeah.

We're gonna be responsiblethrough any transition.

And I actually thinkthere is a possibility

that you could create a servicethat-that creates more jobs.

They might not be driving thevehicles ten, 20 years from now,

but I don't think the car isgonna look like a car anymore.

I think it's gonna bemore like a room on wheels,

and then you might have servicesin those... in those rooms.

Just a hypothetical.

Let's say I'm rollingin my autonomous Lyft

-in the future,-Mm-hmm.

and there's no driver,

-and then we get pulled overby the police. -(laughter)

-And the police happen to finda bag of weed in the car. -Yeah.

-(laughter)-(Zimmer clears throat)

Can we agree that your robotwas smoking that (bleep)?


-(applause and cheering) -Like,how does responsibility work?

How, like... But genuinely,

how does responsibilitywork here?

I mean in terms of accidents,in terms of just

thinking about a worldwhere there's...

there's an autonomous car--

like, what does that meanfor responsibility?

'Cause in an accident you go,"This happened because of,"

or, "This person gets blamed."

-What happens in that world?-Yeah.

Um, I think you could lookto the airlines industry.

There's gonna be productliability on the vehicle,

-whoever's providingthe vehicle. -Yeah.

And then there's operationsliability on the company.

Um, and as I said, you know,we have family members.

I'm a new father.I have a one-year-old daughter.

And I think aboutwhen she turns 16.

-Whatever waysshe's getting around -Yeah.

I want to be incredibly safe.

And I know that everyone elsehas their loved ones

in vehicles, and so it'sa huge responsibility,

and one that's the mostimportant thing we do.

We can't have trustwith our users, our passengers,

our drivers if, you know,we don't solve that first.

Where do yousee yourselves going

beyond just autonomous?

Like, like, what is Lyft tryingto do in the world

as a company, beyond justthe futurizing of the car?

The nice thing about Lyft,even today,

before we addedthe shared-ride options

and before you have autonomouswith multiple people

-in this room on wheels, is that-Yeah.

you have people from differentbackgrounds interacting,

you have people that havedifferent political beliefs

talking to each other,you have drivers

going throughall different parts of town,

-talking to people they wouldn'thave talked to. -Mm-hmm.

That is really powerful,that's really important,

and that-that'sa big part of our mission.

I admire whatyou're trying to do.

I will say this.As a... as a person

who has adopted New Yorkas my home,

I don't support you in any way.

-(laughter)-I think getting rid of traffic

and getting rid of awkwardnesswith strangers

is part of what makes this citywhat it is.

So, uh, good luckto you and yours, my friend,

but don't do it here.

Thank you very muchfor being on the show.

John Zimmer, everybody.