Although my day job in San Francisco consists of many meetings, trips, and other expenditures of time we’ve dubbed ‘work’, I found myself wanting to learn more during my time in the Bay Area. I thought it would be great to dive in head first and use some of the technologies and organizations available to those who live in the bay area that are not yet available elsewhere.
My specific interest to Lyft stems from the idea covered at Singularity University that before artificial intelligence in robots is advanced enough to perform everyday tasks, “the crowd” will take the place. Essentially ‘The Crowd’ so often mentioned in terms of Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunded, etc, is the surrogate for AI. No other place is this so prominent than in last mile transportation. Lyft essentially uses everyday people who own four door cars as drivers and equipment to run a pseudo- taxi company. Lyft is an iPhone app that connects people who need rides with people willing to give them. Its not hard to see that when self-driving cars come online in 2016-2020, the human driver will no longer be required in such a business model.
I applied to become a Lyft driver with the notion that while my wife is on call for the next four months at the General Hospital, I would have the occasional evening and weekend where I could take on a second ‘job.’ The purpose is not to make money (although it is a perk) but more to research such a fascinating startup.
After applying (via a few clicks from Facebook), I was quickly contacted by a Lyft employee who gave me pseudo-phone interview. That must have gone well, because I was immedietly invited to open up the app on my phone an finish the application process. This consisted of snapping a photo of my ID, my car, and my insurance card, and I was done. I waited a few days to pass the background check and the 3 year driving history check. Once this was completed, I was emailed videos to watch, and once complete was invited to take a test drive with my “Lyft Mentor.” After a 20 minute in person, in-car interview and driving ‘exam’ I was checked off on and received a phone call the next day to welcome me as a driver and get my mailing address for my welcome package.
I was already floored at the service level and speed to on-ramp a new driver. Like clockwork, I was followed up with, reminded (by text and email) where I was in the process and how to get to the next step. It was borderline creepy how ‘easy’ it felt to become a driver, but this is the real beauty in the sophistication of the app.
Not to disappoint, I received my welcome package only one day later direct to my house. I’ll continue on below with specifics and photos, but I can’t over-embellish how incredible the unboxing experience was for me. Having been through Alpha and Beta programming with Mavizon – I felt I had a decent taste for what good and bad unboxing looks like. Apple is the king of unboxing in consumer electronics of course, but new technologies require a little extra “umph” for people to get it. Lyft’s case is even more important as the unboxing is really for people who have not spent a dime with Lyft, but instead will be offering their services to the company at a 80/20 rev share. Its really important for drivers to get the culture from day one.
Here’s the unboxing:
Now to the streets!