Just a few short weeks ago, Uber was a true Alpha. Travis Kalanick's brainchild was synonymous with the "On-Demand Economy," a tech juggernaut with a $70 billion valuation hellbent on sucking the private equity market dry before gracing with public markets with its magical stock offering.
The mere notion of an "Uber competitor" was laughable.
But it's amazing what rampant allegations of a toxic misogynistic corporate culture, your CEO berating a driver on camera and analysts thinking that you might be a "Ponzi scheme of ambition" will do.
So now we're not laughing so hard at Uber's competitors, and it's most famous rival is clearly smelling blood in the water.
According to its "blog," KKR has participated in a new $600 million financing round that will value Lyft at $7.5 billion. While those numbers are nice, what's really important is that Lyft just partnered with Henry Kravis to hunt down a wounded rival. And don't nobody kill-off rivals like Henry fucking Kravis.
But don't take our word that KKR is looking to weaken Uber by investing in Lyft, take the not-so-subtle writings of KKR exec Vincent Letteri:
As we surveyed the field for a potential investment, we started with our own experiences. Every ride we requested began with our asking the driver which service they most preferred to drive for. Time and again, the answer was Lyft. We followed this up with our own research and our findings were consistent: Lyft sets itself apart from the competition. The company’s culture is highly customer-centric. One example of this is their recently-announced Round Up & Donate program where passengers can opt in to have their fares rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the difference then being donated to the charity of their choice.
Rough translation: "We were looking to get in on this ridesharing business, but Uber presented little-to-no-upside. But now that everyone hates Uber, we decided to pump money into Lyft and maybe fuck up Travis Kalanick's life like his name was RJR Nabisco."
And KKR would also like to remind you that Lyft doesn't threaten journalists or hold meetings with female staff in attendance at Korean escort bars:
In our analysis, we also saw a mature, focused management team that stands out. We’ve known John Zimmer for almost three years and watched him thoughtfully grow the business and the Lyft team over time. Lyft’s mission is not about being just a good taxi; it is about revolutionizing the way people fundamentally think about car ownership. Their focus on this mission and on offering a quality experience for both passengers and drivers explains why Lyft is now the fastest growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S.
Rough translation: "You tech kids are amazing. There you are, sitting on a $70 billion private valuation without having to produce a product or show profits and you can't even behave with enough baseline professional maturity to prevent Henry Kravis from coming in and acting like the good guy. You're a goddamn gift from heaven is what you are."
So this is where we're at in the great ridesharing startup wars; Despite being so dominant of Lyft for so long that it seemed like Uber was just toying with it, Travis Kalanick has so thoroughly mismanaged his company's reputation that Lyft can take investment from Carl Icahn, General Motors and Henry Kravis yet still maintain the moral high ground.