Lyft gears up for international expansion on anniversary

$60 million in new funding will support the goal

Lyft, the ridesharing service known for its fleet of pink mustache-festooned cars, is eyeing international expansion supported by its biggest funding round yet.

The company will be looking at entering new markets, including overseas, between now and the end of 2014, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer said Wednesday.

Specific countries of interest were not named. Lyft currently operates its cars in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago.

Zimmer's remarks were made on the eve of Lyft's first anniversary, and its official announcement of having secured a new round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz. The amount of funding, Lyft's largest yet, was US$60 million, Zimmer said.

Lyft has raised about $83 million in total in funding since it was founded.

"We're still focused on the same vision to build a more affordable and efficient transportation system," Zimmer said. The company's ability to expand all over the world is now easier with the resources to do it, he added.

Lyft works via a mobile app that allows people to secure rides from drivers who are not required to have commercial insurance or licences. To become a driver for Lyft, applicants must be at least 23 years old and must pass a phone screen, an in-person meeting and background and Department of Motor Vehicles record checks, according to Lyft's website.

The way Lyft works is similar to its rival Sidecar, which also lets non-commercially licensed people sign up to give rides, which are requested through a mobile app.

Uber, meanwhile, offers a black car service that relies primarily on partnerships with commercially licensed transportation providers. But the company has stated recently that it is interested in moving more into the social ridesharing space occupied by Lyft and Sidecar.

Lyft's new funding could help in facilitating an improved ability to compete against Sidecar and possibly Uber, but ultimately what it does is "enhanc[e] the Lyft experience within our current communities and lets us grow into new communities," Zimmer said.

No other details about new Lyft app features or programs were revealed.

The company has "hundreds" of drivers in its ranks and has provided "hundreds of thousands of rides" to its users at an average clip of over 30,000 rides a week, Zimmer said.

Regulatory challenges are Lyft's biggest hurdles to growth, Zimmer said. In California, for instance, the state's Public Utilities Commission opened a proceeding last December to evaluate the safety of ridesharing businesses that employ the Internet, social media and location services to arrange transportation of passengers over public highways for compensation.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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