A letter from incoming CEO David Risher

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Today, Lyft announced co-founder and CEO Logan Green and co-founder and President John Zimmer have decided to transition from their full-time executive management positions into non-executive roles as chair and vice chair of the Lyft board, respectively. David Risher, a seasoned technology executive who previously served as Amazon’s first head of product and head of U.S. retail — and a general manager at Microsoft — before co-founding Worldreader, will become chief executive officer.  You can read the full announcement here.

Below is a letter from incoming CEO David Risher to Lyft team members, and you can read letters from Logan Green and John Zimmer on the Lyft blog.

Hi all,

I’m honored and humbled that Logan, John, and the Board have trusted me to lead Lyft. And I’ll start by saying this: I want Lyft to lead, and I’m thrilled to lead Lyft.

John and Logan have built a generational company and a defining brand. It’s one that has touched the lives of millions of people — riders and drivers alike. I am immensely grateful to them, for all Lyft has done in the world and all it stands to do. I’ll continue to benefit from their vision and experience as board members and advisers. And of course I appreciate the nice things they’ve said about me. 😀

You might have two questions: Who am I? And what makes me the right leader for Lyft?

Some background. I was raised in Maryland (primarily by my single mother) and studied literature at Princeton, then went off to Harvard for my MBA. I joined Microsoft in the early 90s because I was fired up at Bill Gates’ vision of software taking over the world; under my leadership, Microsoft Access grew from nothing to the market-share leader, and then I led the development of Microsoft’s earliest web properties. After Microsoft, I joined Amazon when it was a small internet bookstore and worked for Jeff Bezos to grow it to a $4B everything store. (Jeff’s line to me as he was recruiting me in 1996: “I think if you do your job well, we might someday be a $1B company.” Turns out he underestimated what we could do together!)

For the past 13 years, I’ve been leading a nonprofit organization I co-founded called Worldreader whose mission is to get children reading so they can reach their potential. So far we’ve reached 21 million people all over the world using Kindles, cell-phones, and tablets, and the org is in many ways still just getting started. 

So what have I learned along the way? I’ll point to four lessons.

  • From Microsoft, I learned how to compete. At the time, competition was the energy drink that drove Microsoft. I drank all the Gatorade.

  • From Amazon, I learned how to obsess over customers. Everything starts there.

  • At Worldreader, I learned how to do more with less. Nonprofits tackle some of the world’s largest problems. Successful ones figure out how to make limited resources go a very long way.

  • And across all three organizations, I learned of the power of leading with purpose. Each organization derived tremendous energy through a singleness of purpose. It’s what attracted and retained great people, allowed us to make focused decisions, and inspired our customers.

So what’s our purpose at Lyft? 

Briefly: We’re going to lead in bringing people together. That’s not a slogan; it’s a purpose. There are too many forces in the world that isolate us, from social media to the loss of community post-COVID. Yet think about every interesting life experience you’ve had, and I bet 99% of them involve other people. Those are the experiences that make you happy, healthy, productive, and energized.

Our primary vehicle (ha!) will be rideshare. And we’re going to focus on making sure our riders and drivers have an incredible experience every time they interact with us, so they use us again and again to get out into the world.

I’ll have more to say at our all-hands meeting tomorrow. For now, I’ll close by saying how thrilled I am to be your next leader. Under Logan and John’s leadership, you’ve created an amazing organization. 

I can’t wait to stand on their shoulders and take us forward.