You may have seen him hanging out in the Lounge, and surely you're familiar with his work — you know, that friendly-looking balloon app you use every once in a while. In our fourth episode of Office Hours, meet Evan: Lyft driver and Product Manager. Ed. note: "Eating your own dog food" refers to using your own product. To the best of our knowledge, Evan does not actually eat dog food.
What brought you to Lyft?
My path started at Zimride. I've always been a transportation nerd, and I was really attracted to the mission of building a transportation network with technology rather than infrastructure. Zimride was a really powerful product, and tons of people still use it to this day, but we also knew transportation is such an innately mobile thing, we had to try something mobile. As soon as we did, it took off. Almost two years later, it still is.
What does a Product Manager actually do?
I’m involved in scaling what Lyft does through engineering. That means building a system for drivers to apply in the app, building a better Lyft.com, creating maps of coverage areas, improving payouts – anything that makes Lyft run smoother through engineering. My day usually starts with checking the Lounges and getting a pulse for what drivers are talking about.
What’s our engineering team like?
Our engineering team is incredibly smart and a lot of fun to work with. It amazes me how much they care about our drivers and passengers. At a lot of companies, engineers are just carrying out marching orders, but at Lyft they push back and make sure we're doing what's best for our community.
There are so many behind the scenes things our engineers do. So many people use this service all over the place, keeping it up and available 24/7 is unbelievably hard and our engineers do a great job of that.
You’re a driver yourself. How does that inform what you do here at HQ?
Being a driver informs everything I do. I’m constantly thinking about how we can make life and Lyft driving better for our drivers. An essential piece of that is being on the road myself. I try to get out there at least every few weeks to make sure it’s easy for me to put myself in drivers' shoes. At the end of the day that’s what my job is really about, to communicate to the engineering team what drivers are feeling and what they need most.
I drive, John drives, Logan drives, many other people at the company drive. That's something that really sets Lyft apart.
Is there a particular feature or change that occurred to you as a result of your experience on the road?
Early on, Lyft got so busy it became really hard for people to switch out of driver mode before the next request came in. We didn't want to make it more complicated to end a ride by asking everyone if they wanted to get out of driver mode, so I just added a 10-second buffer before you got your next request. It was a simple thing but it made life a lot easier for drivers on Friday and Saturday nights when they were getting pounded with requests.
What’s one thing you want every driver to know?
That with everything we do, we’re thinking of them first. Our drivers really come first. We’re gonna be experimenting and doing all kinds of different things for years and years, but it’s all in the interest of doing what’s best for our drivers.
Drivers drive the company.
Now it's your turn to ask questions in the comments below!
Office Hours takes you behind the scenes at our San Francisco headquarters to meet the dedicated crew that keeps Lyft rolling. Tune in next week for a Q&A with Katie Kincaid from Govt. Relations.