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Lyft board member Valerie Jarrett bullish on rideshare giant despite stock rollercoaster

Amid the roller coaster stock offering of rideshare giant Lyft, its board member Valerie Jarrett said in a new interview she is bullish about the outlook for the company.

“I believe in the core business,” says Jarrett, a longtime adviser to former President Barack Obama and Lyft board member. “They have all the qualities of—over the long-term—a business that will be quite successful.”

Lyft, founded in 2012, lost $911 million last year even though it generated $2.1 billion in revenue. The company’s stock leapt 9% after it debuted on the Nasdaq last Thursday, only to fall 12% by the second day of trading.

On Friday afternoon, the stock was trading at $73.97, just above its IPO price of $72.

Jarrett made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

A senior adviser to President Barack Obama over both his terms, Jarrett met Barack and Michelle Obama in the 1990s when Jarrett was a deputy chief of staff to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. After leaving Daley’s administration in 1995, Jarrett spent more than a decade as an executive for real estate firm The Habitat Company, which named her CEO in 2007.

Soon after, Jarrett joined Obama’s presidential campaign as a senior adviser, and she served in that role over both of Obama’s presidential terms. She remains an adviser to the Obama Foundation and sits on the board of Lyft and 2U, an education software company.

‘They are shrew businessmen but...they believe in social conscience’

Jarrett praised Lyft founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, recounting the first time she met them.

“They talked to me about their vision and how they were so frustrated by congestion, and realizing that people weren't being served well by the existing way that we move people around in our cities,” says Jarrett, whose book, “Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward,” was released this month. “And how could they contribute to make that journey easier.”

“They are shrewd businessmen,” she adds. “But they also believe in diversity as a strength. They believe in a social conscience and a commitment to our cities.”

Jarrett served as the board of the Chicago Transit Authority from 1995 to 2003.

“They invest in the cities in which they do business,” Jarrett said of Green and Zimmer, pointing to the company’s recent commitment to provide free and reduced-price rides to organizations that fight homelessness in Los Angeles.

Lyft’s primary competitor, Uber, is gearing up for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in April. According to Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of anonymized purchases, Uber accounts for over 67% of market share despite the controversial resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick in 2017 and reports of a toxic workplace culture.

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.

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