Peer-to-peer ridesharing company Lyft made headlines last week with the news they've just closed a round of massive round of funding. Widely known as the quieter, gentler rideshare company (thanks to rival Uber's polarizing CEO, who famously called the entire taxi industry an asshole in 2014), Lyft is still no slouch when it comes to innovation and growth in this disruptive and relatively new industry.

Perhaps you've used its service, but what do you really know about Lyft? Check out these often surprising facts:

1.     Lyft just closed its F series of funding, securing $1 billion (half of that from General Motors) and upping its value to somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.5 billion. The deal will help the two companies establish a network of U.S. ownerless car hubs, where Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles.

2.     Partnerships with entities like Didi, China's largest rideshare company, and more recently with GrabTaxi and Ola, have helped Lyft expand its global footprint to the point it now offers service to nearly half the world's population. Lyft currently operates in about 65 U.S. cities.

3.     Lyft's headquarters in San Francisco (where Uber has also established its home base) feature a whimsical "pink mustache" front desk, a fuzzy pink elevator, a rooftop terrace, and a secret entrance in a wall painting to a hidden room.

4.     Lyft was actually launched in 2012 as a service of Zimride, which was founded by partners Logan Green and John Zimmer (now CEO) in 2007. At one point, Zimride was the largest rideshare service in the United States. While Zimride was a solution for city-to-city and longer trips, Lyft was launched to focus on in-city ridesharing.

5.     Lyft investors include Icahn Enterprises, Rakuten, Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, K9 Ventures and Janus Capital Management, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed's Kingdom Holding Company, among others.

6.     As Lyft president John Zimmer told  Fast Company, in 2014, the rideshare company expanded from 15 to almost 65 cities and experienced five-fold growth in both revenue and riders.

7.     Like Uber, Lyft has been a disruptor and has faced no small amount of resistance, including aggressive action from New York, where the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the company (the suit was settled with a $300,000 fine in mid-2015).

8.     GM is an important strategic partner for Lyft. In their recent funding announcement, Lyft execs explained: "We will work with GM to build a network of on demand autonomous vehicles that will make getting around more affordable, accessible and enjoyable. GM will also establish a series of national rental hubs where Lyft drivers can access short-term vehicles, unlocking new ways for people to earn money without having to own a car."

9.     In 2015, the top drop-off spot type for Lyft riders was transit stops, while the most visited restaurant by "Lyfties" was San Francisco's Tacolicious. The coffee shop where more passengers were dropped off than any other? You guessed it: Starbucks.

10.  Lyft operates a local referral program where "Lyft Ambassadors" earn money for referring passengers and drivers to the service.

11.  Lyft uses driver incentives like its Express Pay option, a Shell rewards program on fuel purchases, and a partnership with Honest Dollar for driver savings and retirement programs to entice drivers to join and stay with the company in the crazy competitive driving-as-employment industry.

12.  The brand also uses the #WhyILyft hashtag and YouTube videos for driver recruitment.

13.  The Lyft marketing team's genius includes their capitalization on pop culture with partnerships ranging from their deal with the Clippers, Nets and Hawks franchises, to their arranging to make Justin Bieber's album Purpose available exclusively through the Lyft app the day before release.

14.  In mid-2014, Lyft Line launched as a new feature to allow ride seekers to get matched up with other would-be passengers traveling a similar route, allowing everyone in the car to pay less. It started in San Francisco and has expanded to Boston, Seattle and other cities.

15.  The process for becoming a Lyft driver includes background checks with the DMV, national sex offender registries, and county databases, typically spanning seven years, as well as in-person interviews with Lyft drivers. Drivers must maintain high user ratings, or they'll be dropped from the service.

Published on: Feb 25, 2016