Lyft opens Big Apple office in bid for larger slice of ride-share pie

November 13, 2017

New York is already one of the most hotly-contested rideshare markets, with Uber surging ahead of the city’s famed Yellow Cabs and Lyft registering gains on both, in terms of rides hailed. Now, Lyft is folding the battle for the Big Apple into its overarching strategy, amplifying its East Coast efforts in a move it considers vital to securing its place in the long-term landscape.

Lyft’s opening gambit comes in the form of an 11,000 square-foot office in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, where it will pluck up to 80 employees from the “incredible pool of talent in NYC.” The tasks the new office will tackle are two-fold, with one goal centered around finding efficiencies in sales and marketing, and the other about understanding the unique engineering challenges presented by New York.

As the company said in a statement, “if you can understand and build transportation in NYC, you can do it anywhere.”

A central figure in Lyft’s push will be Garrett van Ryzin, a professor at Columbia Business School hired to oversee a team of engineers working to integrate Lyft with the city’s existing mass transit systems. Previously, van Ryzin worked with Uber to help determine more efficient pricing models.

A noted efficiency expert, van Ryzin told The Verge he was hired to, “make the market more efficient — so all the things that have to do with matching and dispatching of drivers and pricing of the market and providing information to help balance the market.”

Ultimately, van Ryzin’s task is to get Lyft’s New York operations in shape to a point that they can seamlessly handle the eventual rollout of self-driving vehicles, as engineers continue their development of autonomous technologies.

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