Considering how much time employees spending filling out expense reports and then how much accounts payable spend in processing those reports—let’s not even mention the time various managers spend approving these expense reports–, the question crops up periodically whether companies could save money and boost productivity by having more business services direct-billed. And Lyft is now doing just that, with a service to allow for direct company billing of transportation.
The service, called Lyft for Work, lets companies issue Lyft credits for their employees to use for business travel.
Lyft “sees a growing opportunity in the business travel industry, which is expected to generate $1.21 trillion in revenue world-wide this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association. Lyft’s corporate program is already being used by a few tech companies to offer customized commuting perks to workers. Payments startup Stripe gives employees free rides when they leave the office after 7 p.m. Yelp plans to pick up the tab on rides to its staff holiday party,” according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. “The service could help build interest in Lyft Line, the carpooling service it began offering earlier this year to let customers share a ride with a stranger and split the cost. Lyft at Work lets companies restrict their free employee credits to rides on just Lyft Line.”
The service can be used as an alternative to the common practice for some companies of handing out transit passes or paid parking credits, noted a story in TechCrunch. “Companies can sign up for the service and then issue a monthly credit balance to participating employees. They can also issue individual credit codes if needed — for instance, if they want to provide credit for candidates they are recruiting to get to and from their office. Through the program, Lyft bills the company directly rather than the employee, and only invoices businesses for the credits used, not the total credits allocated.”
The story added that Lyft CEO Logan Green estimated that most companies are handing out between $100 to $200 in travel credits to employees, although the amount varies.
It looks like Lyft got into a bit of trouble listing some 29 companies who it said had signed up for the service, including Adobe, Yelp, Stripe, Postmates and Thumbtack. Adobe quickly issued a statement denying that it was either a partner or a participant in the program.
“Lyft inaccurately reported that Adobe has partnered with Lyft on Lyft for Work. Adobe has not entered into a partnership with Lyft or signed up for the Lyft for Work. Adobe currently offers a diverse portfolio of commute alternative programs, and regularly explores new opportunities to make commuting easier, safer and more cost-efficient for Adobe employees,” the Adobe statement said.
Sounds like Adobe was in talks with Lyft but hadn’t yet closed a deal. Oops! The fact that Adobe felt the need to contact various media to stress that it was not participating probably does not bode well for those talks.
The Journal story implied this Lyft offering might reignite tensions with rival Uber. “Uber this summer linked up with expense-management company Concur and started a new business portal called Uber for Business that also lets corporate travelers charge their rides directly to their employers,” the Journal story said. “Earlier this month, Lyft sued its former operating chief, Travis VanderZanden, claiming he took secret company documents with him when he left the company and took a job at Uber. VanderZanden, who is now vice president of international growth at Uber, disputed Lyft’s allegations in a Nov. 7 court filing, saying that he never disclosed Lyft’s confidential information after leaving the company.”