Will the ongoing Spy vs. Spy war between San Francisco ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber ever end?
Not today it won't, with Uber hiring recently departed Lyft COO Travis VanderZanden to head a new unit that will focus on international growth.
"We are thrilled to welcome Travis to Uber," said an Uber spokesperson in a statement. "After he left his previous employer, we talked to Travis and it was clear his experience and skills would help us strengthen our operations as we grow, expand and evaluate markets internationally."
It's not clear if the hiring violates any non-compete agreement VanderZanden might have signed with Lyft, although those are hard to enforce in California. But it's no secret that the exec probably has a lot of insight into the internal workings and plans of Uber's main rival. In addition, when he worked at Lyft, in which he was an angel investor, VanderZanden gave an interview with Liz Gannes of Re/code in which he talked about how Lyft was better than Uber.
But bygones! The hiring, which is immediate, comes after he left Lyft in August after tensions with its pair of founders. VanderZanden came to the startup after it bought his on-demand car-washing service Cherry last year. Its officeless expansion scaling model is now used by Lyft.
Basically, VanderZanden developed a system where Lyft does not have to set up local operations in new markets; new drivers apply and get their background checked online, they are then screened by phone, and a more experienced local driver does a vehicle inspection and ride-along.
Before Lyft, VanderZanden was the chief revenue officer for Yammer and is known as a hard-charging entrepreneur.
As I noted when VanderZanden departed Lyft: "It is unclear what specific issues he had with CEO Logan Green and President John Zimmer, but such management wrangling is common in fast-growing companies as teams are formed (and often de-formed)."