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The numbers are in, and #DeleteUber worked — in Lyft’s favor

(Paul Sancya/AP)
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Call it a tale of two ride-sharing services.

In the days following the announcement of President Trump’s immigration ban, rival companies Uber and Lyft responded in starkly different ways.

Uber, whose chief executive was on President Trump’s economic advisory council, was seen as attempting to subvert a taxi drivers’ strike in protest of the ban. The hashtag #DeleteUber went viral on social media as a result, and an estimated 200,000 people removed the company’s app from their phones. Lyft, meanwhile, pledged $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Now new data show that the companies’ responses led to opposing reactions: Lyft saw a 30 percent increase in riders in the days following its $1 million pledge. Uber, meanwhile, had a 10 percent dip in riders around the same time, according to 1010data, a data-management company in New York that analyzed consumer spending data to come up with the figures.

“People reacted to the news, and we saw an almost immediate increase in Lyft usage,” said Natalie Seidman, senior vice president of data insights at 1010data. “This isn’t something we’d ever really seen before.”

In the weeks since Trump took office, companies of all sizes have grappled with how to navigate new political terrain. Some executives, such as Chobani chief executive Hamdi Ulukaya, have spoken out against the new administration and its policies, while others, like Under Armour chief executive Kevin Plank, have reiterated their support for the president.

And consumers on both sides of the aisle say they’re trying to make their political views known, too, by deliberately supporting some companies and shunning others.

“We’re in such a hyper-polarized environment — I’ve never seen the country this polarized, ever,” Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of Retail Systems Research in Miami, told The Washington Post last month.

Of the new Lyft riders who also used Uber, 81 percent stopped using Uber after Jan. 29, the data show. In all, Lyft had a 7 percent growth in new customers in the 30 days following the immigration ban. More than half of those riders were former Uber users, according to 1010data.

After about a week, though, usage of both San Francisco-based ride services returned to normal. Some users may have restored Uber after Kalanick said he would give up his role advising the president, while others are likely to have reverted back to their old habits despite their political leanings.

“In the end, convenience overrides everything else,” Rosenblum said, adding that despite recent politically charged calls to boycott Nordstrom, Target, Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, all four remain in business.

In the case of ride-sharing apps, however, Seidman points out that the act of downloading a new app — or deleting an existing one — could lead to longer-term changes in behavior.

“There’s a stickiness to it,” she said. “When someone downloads the Lyft app, they’ll probably use it again.”

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