Lyft board grows to nine

The new mem­ber is Va­lerie Jar­rett, a for­mer se­nior ad­vi­sor to Pres­i­dent Obama.

Los Angeles Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By Faiz Sid­diqui Sid­diqui writes for the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Va­lerie Jar­rett is join­ing Lyft’s board of di­rec­tors, the com­pany an­nounced Mon­day, mak­ing her the lat­est of Pres­i­dent Obama’s for­mer staffers to en­ter the world of ride-hail­ing.

Jar­rett, the for­mer se­nior ad­vi­sor to the pres­i­dent, joins the panel as an in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor, ex­pand­ing Lyft’s board to nine mem­bers from eight.

She will fo­cus on prob­lems of ur­ban trans­porta­tion, a Lyft spokes­woman said, draw­ing on her back­ground as for­mer com­mis­sioner of Chicago’s Depart­ment of Plan­ning and Devel­op­ment and chair­woman of the Chicago Tran­sit Board in ad­di­tion to her eight years at the White House.

“I am a fre­quent Lyft pas­sen­ger and have been in­spired by the strong com­mu­nity [that Lyft co-founders] John [Zim­mer] and Lo­gan [Green] have cre­ated that is ded­i­cated to en­light­ened cor­po­rate val­ues,” Jar­rett said in a state­ment pro­vided by Lyft. “We share a be­lief that re­li­able, af­ford­able trans­porta­tion pos­i­tively im­pacts so­cial mo­bil­ity, and im­proves the qual­ity of life in densely pop­u­lated com­mu­ni­ties. I am thrilled to join the ride.”

Zim­mer and Green, who sit on the San Fran­cisco com­pany’s board, wel­comed Jar­rett’s ap­point­ment.

“She will be a great part­ner for Lyft as we con­tinue work­ing along­side pub­lic tran­sit agen­cies to pro­vide up­ward mo­bil­ity through trans­porta­tion, re­duce con­ges­tion, and ul­ti­mately re­shape our cities,” Green said. “We couldn’t be more ex­cited to wel­come Va­lerie to the Lyft fam­ily.”

Zim­mer praised Jar­rett for “per­spec­tive that will push Lyft for­ward as we work to im­prove peo­ple’s lives with the world’s best trans­porta­tion.”

Since Jan­uary, Jar­rett has also joined the board of Chicago-based Ariel In­vest­ments.

Obama’s long­est-serv­ing ad­vi­sor dur­ing his pres­i­dency, she be­came an ad­vi­sor to the Obama Foun­da­tion af­ter he left of­fice.

Other mem­bers of Obama’s team have also waded into the emer­gent world of ride-hail­ing in re­cent years.

David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 cam­paign man­ager and then se­nior ad­vi­sor, was hired to head Uber pol­icy in 2014, but he has since left that role to lead pol­icy for the Chan Zucker­berg Ini­tia­tive, a phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by pe­di­a­tri­cian Priscilla Chan and her hus­band, Face­book Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg.

For­mer Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. was hired to lead an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Uber’s cor­po­rate cul­ture af­ter a spate of high-pro­file com­pany scan­dals this year.

Jar­rett joins Lyft dur­ing a pe­riod of growth largely stem­ming from Uber-re­lated back­lash — af­ter the #DeleteUber scan­dal, wide­spread ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment at Uber, a video show­ing founder and thenChief Ex­ec­u­tive Travis Kalan­ick be­rat­ing a driver, and a va­ri­ety of other set­backs to Lyft’s chief ri­val.

Lyft touted in its blog post that it had given more rides so far this year than in all of 2016. Still, Uber re­mains the gi­ant of the in­dus­try, with re­cent val­u­a­tions at about $70 bil­lion — nearly 10 times that of Lyft.

Jar­rett is the first Lyft board mem­ber not to rep­re­sent a ma­jor share­holder, ac­cord­ing to Lyft.

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