The emerging business of supplying scooters and bikes on demand has not been very eloquent, and today comes among the newest lumps: TechCrunch has learned and verified that Liam O’Connor, an executive hired to help transportation company Lyft build its bike and scooter operations, has left after seven months with the newly-public company.
The change comes some two weeks after Lyft needed to pull thousands of e-bikes off the roads in New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC because of faulty brakes. Lyft says that the move isn’t because of this, but to O’Connor deciding to take a job “close to his heart. ”
“Yes, he’s taking on a new job that’s close to his heart where he’ll be spending much of his time out of the nation, and will remain a close adviser to Lyft,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve elevated an internal candidate that has been an outstanding product leader for the past two years and we&rsquo rsquo;ve made with Lyft Bikes and Scooters. ”
We understand that O’Connor will be linking Zipline, the startup that provides medicine by drone in Africa. He is being replaced by Dor Levi, who had been Lyft’s director of product for Marketplace, Shared Rides, Transit, and Bikes and Scooters (and had also spent some time at Uber in the center of his years at Lyft) is the new head of the branch, with John Zimmer — Lyft’s co-founder and president — also spending substantial time on the operation.
O’Connor isn. Justine Lee, that has been general counsel (leading on regulatory and legal ) for Lyft Bikes, is leaving the company. Others include Lynn Fischer, who had been head of marketing and growth for Citi Bikes, left in December, and Jelle Vastert, who had been recruited to help run the bicycle and scooter branch but left after four weeks last year — from what we understand because of a change of heart about relocation (he’s based in The Netherlands).
Another substantial personnel change in the bicycle and scooter branch was that in March, some 50 people were let go.
There are clearly different reasons behind these various changes, but together the departures and some of the other events such as the e-bikes getting pulled over technical problems underscore the challenges in forging into the new business area, and some of the instability that comes with all that.
O’Connor was a high profile hire when he joined as chief procurement officer and head of the bicycle and scooter branch in November 2018 — having held top provide positions at Tesla and earlier that Apple.
O’Connor’s joining Lyft before its IPO was a sign of how the company planned to continue diversifying its business beyond vehicles into different modes of transport.
That diversification is viewed as an important step for highly capitalised businesses to take as a means of leveraging brand and their scale to reach a broader range of use-cases and users. (It’s a strategy that’s also being followed by Uber.)
Lyft’s in diversifying into transporation efforts have seen some ups, but also some downs.
In terms of progress, the company has now integrated Citi Bike to the Lyft app and will expand the bicycle sharing effort to more cities. And it recently won a bid to be the exclusive bikeshare provider in Chicago for another nine years. In scooters, it’s in 15 markets, showing progress on that front. From what we understand, Lyft is still committed to growing that area of its business.
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