Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Ride-Sharing Service Lyft Gets Literal at SXSW, With Piggyback Rides

Uber, SideCar, Getaround and Lyft: These are just a few of the services you may have heard by now, all of them attempting to disrupt the transportation industry with car summoning through mobile apps or peer-to-peer ride-sharing options.

Many of them, of course, have also faced cease-and-desist orders or other obstacles from local governments that have expressed concern about liability — and legality.

So, Lyft, probably best known for the giant, hot-pink mustache emblem that drivers slap on their cars, has come up with a SXSW stunt that gets them a little bit of attention without getting into legal hot water in Austin: Free Lyft piggyback rides.

The startup has dispatched around 20 ride-givers — some of them semiprofessional rugby players — to give conference-goers a literal lift around the town.

If you’re not lucky enough to run into one of these pink-mustache-wearing men on the street, as I did today, you can request a Lyft piggyback ride as a temporary option from within the Lyft mobile app. (The full version of the Lyft mobile app, which connects you with real-people drivers willing to use their own cars to give rides, is currently only operating in San Francisco and Los Angeles.)

John Zimmer, co-founder and COO of Zimride, the company behind Lyft, says the piggyback rides were mostly just about having a little bit of fun in Texas.

Lyft isn’t the only one getting creative in Austin, where taxis, pedicabs, and limousines are tightly regulated. SideCar is making all rides free during the fest, and Uber, which primarily hooks users up with town car service, is offering pedicab rides around the city.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus