When Autotech Ventures invested in Lyft in 2016, the company was already worth $4.5 billion and beginning to snap up market share from Uber in the United States.
Uber , meanwhile, was already netting valuations of more than 10 times that of its smaller ride-hailing competitor.
Still, Alexei Andreev, cofounder of the VC fund that manages about $200 million in capital, stands by his decision to go with the smaller of the two.
“First, we definitely knew Lyft better through John Zimmer, we had barbecues many times together and felt really good about it,” Andreev said in an interview with Business Insider. “He graduated from the hospitality department at Cornell so he’s very focused on customer experience. At the end of the day, you have to make sure your customers are happy and keep them coming back to you after having a positive experience.”
Autotech would end up investing $120 million from its first fund into Lyft in early 2016, a stake it still holds today. Back-of-the-envelope math suggests that at the company’s current market value post-tumultuous IPO, the firm’s stake could be worth approximately $360 million, provided no shares are sold when the 180-day lockup period ends.
Lyft’s stock price has stabilized somewhat after sliding dramatically in its first month of trading. Going forward, Andreev says he’ll be looking for the company to entice riders to take more rides on the platform.
“We’ll be watching for repeat customers, or the number of times people are using Lyft normalized for customer growth,” he said. “How many times on average per month is a customer booking rides, and what is the company’s cost for customer acquisition.”
Despite some very small players operating in niche markets, Andreev says the major ride-hailing industry is likely down to just Uber and Lyft.
“Personally I believe we are down to two players,” he said. “If they act rationally, both companies should be in great shape financially.”