Lyft’s decision to publicly oppose a controversial travel ban against citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations has paid off bigly. On Sunday, for the first time ever, downloads of the rideshare app on iOs devices surpassed closest rival Uber.
Lyft’s daily downloads have also more than doubled during the last two weeks, culminating in yesterday’s iOs milestone and giving Lyft its best day ever,according to analyst firm App Annie (via Business Insider).
The win came after Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green sent a letter to members Sunday morning declaring opposition to Trump’s executive order on the travel ban and announcing a $1 million donation to the ACLU (split over four years).
But Lyft’s fortunes were helped by Uber, currently in the midst of a public relations crisis thanks to the close ties between CEO Travis Kalanick and the Trump administration.
Uber has been facing significant backlash since Kalanick was named as one of 19 executives advising Trump on economic issues. On January 20, protesters blocked the entrance to Uber’s San Francisco headquarters, and a boycott movement spearheaded on social media by the hashtag #BoycottUber has been trending since then.
Kalanick had tried unsuccessfully to mitigate the boycott and justify his ties to Trump, first in an all-hands meeting January 24 and later in an email sent to employees and leaked to the media. However, Uber undid whatever positive effects Kalanick’s statements might have had after the travel ban was announced.
After protests were held on Saturday and Sunday at several airports at which travelers impacted by the travel ban were being detained, New York City cab drivers stopped picking people up from JFK in solidarity with demonstrators. Uber, however, turned off surge pricing at JFK in an attempt to capitalize on the protests, a move that alienated even more customers and prompted a new hashtag, #DeleteUber.
#DeleteUber, by the way, was given even wider exposure on Sunday after celebrities such as Taraji P. Henson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson adopted it while simultaneously praising Lyft for its donation to the ACLU.
By today, Uber was in 13th place in the Apple App Store, while Lyft peaked in 4th place. Whether this indicates a long-term trend is far from clear, but Uber seems to be somewhat scared: Today, Kalanick joined more than 400 NYC-based business leaders in signing an open letter opposing the travel ban.