• Lyft racked up record sales and customer journeys in the same week that coronavirus fears sparked a massive stock-market selloff.
  • “Last week was our single biggest week in our history in terms of both revenue and rides,” Lyft finance chief Brian Roberts said.
  • Commuters, shoppers, and others may be springing for Lyft rides rather than braving public transport.
  • “If you have to get from point A to point B, you begin to second-think any sort of situation where you’re going to be crammed into a bus or crammed into a train or subway,” Roberts said.
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Lyft set records for customer journeys and sales last week, even as coronavirus fears sparked the fastest stock-market correction in more than 80 years.

“Last week, it was markets in free fall, fear, paranoia about coronavirus in the United States,” Brian Roberts, the ride-hailing startup’s finance chief, said at a technology conference on Tuesday. “Last week was our single biggest week in our history in terms of both revenue and rides.”

Coronavirus – which causes a flu-like disease called COVID-19 – has infected more than 93,000 people, killed at least 3,100, and spread to upwards of 75 countries. Concern about catching it may have fueled Lyft’s record week.

“If you have to get from point A to point B, you begin to second-think any sort of situation where you’re going to be crammed into a bus or crammed into a train or subway,” Roberts said.

“When you’re packed against people and you hear distant coughing, I think there’s nothing worse in terms of the human psyche right now because there’s just so much fear,” he added.

Commuters, shoppers, and others may be springing for private-car rides rather than braving public transport.

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“People are using more Lyft,” Roberts said, citing conversations with friends and colleagues. “We have not seen a demand impact” from coronavirus, he added.

Lyft may be faring better than its archrival, Uber, because of its domestic focus. It only operates in the US and Canada – two countries with excellent healthcare systems that haven’t suffered major outbreaks so far – and relies less on international travelers, Roberts said.

While coronavirus could disrupt Lyft’s supply chain, Roberts argued the startup’s resilience to the epidemic made the 30% drop in its shares over the past three weeks seem a little harsh.

“I do think there’s some mitigating factors from Lyft, especially what’s priced into our stock at this point,” he said.