The Lyft founder's game plan for beating Uber: 'We're woke' and a 'better boyfriend'


John Zimmer

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Lyft

Lyft cofounder John Zimmer is woke.

Uber's is getting battered by a never-ending bad news cycle that's featured everything from accusations of sexual harassment to a lawsuit by one of its own investors.

That's created a big opening for Lyft, Uber's main ride-hailing rival in the US, to capitalize on the situation.

So what's Lyft's master plan? According to Lyft's founder, it all boils down to one word: Woke.


"We're woke. Our community is woke, and the U.S. population is woke," Lyft president John Zimmer said in the interview with Time on Monday, when discussing how his company planned to take advantage of Uber's recent stumbles.

"There's an awakening … Our vote matters, our choice matters, the seat we take matters," Zimmer continued.

As if being "woke" made Lyft the obvious alternative, Zimmer then offered a curious metaphor to explain the choice between Uber and Lyft.


"We're not the nice guys. We're the better boyfriend," he said.

Zimmer's use of the term "woke" might strike some as incongruous for a venture-backed company that has raised more than $1 billion in funding from the likes of Peter Thiel and Carl Icahn.

The phrase "stay woke" has its roots as a black activist term used to acknowledged the systemic oppression of the black minority. It gained prevalence during Ferguson and Trayvon Martin to the point where even Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey appeared on stage with a "stay woke" t-shirt. At the time, he said using the term meant that his eyes were open to the world around him, especially having been on the ground in Ferguson, but his appearance in the shirt was viewed by some as extremely embarrassing.


Zimmer's use of the activist term to promote his own business goes one step further.

Choosing to download Lyft because you disagree with Uber's business practices isn't a "woke" act made by a "woke community" to side with a "woke" business. Lyft is right to capitalize on Uber's stumbles, but calling it being "woke" to do so is not how you do it.

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