GM’s Ammann leaves Lyft’s board, picks replacement

Eric Newcomer
Bloomberg News

General Motors Co. President Dan Ammann is stepping down from the board of directors at Lyft Inc., the ride-hailing company said Wednesday. The announcement is the latest sign that GM and Lyft haven’t become the close allies that they once hoped to be.

Maggie Wilderotter, a former telecommunications executive who sits on Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.’s board with Ammann, will fill his seat at Lyft, the San Francisco-based company said.

“Maggie is a world-class executive who brings a wealth of experience to Lyft’s board," Chief Executive Officer Logan Green said in a statement. "We are delighted to welcome her to Lyft as our second independent director. We also want to thank Dan Ammann for his service on the Lyft board."

Ammann joined Lyft’s board in January 2016 when General Motors invested $500 million in the startup. At the time, the two companies said they hoped to work together closely – leasing GM cars to Lyft drivers in the short term, and building networks of driverless cars in the long term. But those dreams quickly fell apart. Lyft partnered with GM competitor Ford Motor Co. to develop self-driving technology in September 2017. Then this March, Lyft announced a major partnership with automotive supplier Magna International Inc. Ammann has already had to recuse himself from some of Lyft’s corporate decisions.

And while GM bought its own self-driving car startup, Cruise Automation, in March 2016, Lyft has announced partnerships with other autonomous car companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo.

Ammann’s decision to leave the board settles some questions in what had been a fraying relationship. General Motors remains a major shareholder in Lyft and Ammann selected his replacement on the board. General Motors’s continued investment in Cruise Automation was one source of tension, a person familiar with the matter said.

“We continue to be pleased with our investment in Lyft," GM spokesman Dave Roman said in a statement. "This board change has no impact on our investment."

A former CEO of Frontier Communications Corp., Wilderotter is an experienced board member. She sits on the board of Costco Wholesale Corp., Hewlett Packard Enterprise and DocuSign Inc. She will serve as Lyft’s second independent board member, alongside Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

In addition to the board change, Lyft announced that it expects to generate $1.9 billion in gross bookings in the second quarter of this year. Unlike competitor Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft does not publicly disclose its quarterly financial statements. The company said that it’s now facilitating 10 million rides a week, up from more than seven million a month in January 2016. Lyft says that its share of the U.S. ride-hailing market has climbed to 35 percent, from 22 percent in January 2017.