Tesla’s Jon McNeill is Lyft’s new chief operating officer

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 9, 2018.
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SAN FRANCISCO: Lyft Inc has hired Tesla Inc’s Jon McNeill as chief operating officer (COO) to help the US ride-hailing start-up gain more ground on Uber Technologies Inc.

McNeill was president of global sales and service at Tesla and an influential figure at the automaker. On Tesla’s earnings call on Wednesday, chief executive officer (CEO) Elon Musk said McNeill’s department would report directly to him and that “there are no plans to search for a replacement”.

Tesla has pledged to eventually create its own ride-hailing service using self-driving vehicles, though there’s been scant signs of progress on this since Musk described the plan in 2016. However, he did revisit the topic on Wednesday’s call. “We expect to operate kind of a shared autonomous fleet, like a combination of Uber or Lyft and Airbnb, where you can opt to have your car enter a shared fleet,” he said. “That’s a pretty significant opportunity.”

McNeill will fill a hole left by the departure late last year of Rex Tibbens, Lyft’s former COO. Tibbens helped Lyft expand throughout the US and steal market share from Uber.

Lyft even surprised itself with its performance in 2017. As Uber crumbled and lost a CEO, th US’ second-place ride-hailing company said it increased market share by more than 50% and added a high-profile investor. Alphabet Inc’s private equity arm, CapitalG, led a US$1.5 billion investment, first disclosed in October. In a statement on Wednesday, Lyft said it more than doubled the number of rides on its system last year. — Bloomberg