Parallel entrepreneur profile: John Zimmer, Lyft

John Zimmer studied hospitality management at Cornell. He graduated in 2006 and joined Lehman Brothers, a prestigious investment bank, in order to get a better finance background but found himself bored within the first year of a two-year analyst program.

When Logan Green, a friend of a friend, posted on Facebook that he was building a carpooling website, John got interested. A course he took in college emphasized that overconsumption of resources will ultimately threaten human survival. The lessons stuck with him but he wasn’t inspired yet to work on a solution. The carpooling service idea struck a chord.

At the time, Logan was in Santa Barbara and John was working in New York City. The two connected online and met for the first time in person when Logan traveled to New York a few weeks later. They hit it off and decided to collaborate on Logan’s idea.

John stayed at Lehman Brothers for another year while Logan built the website and John hammered away on marketing campaigns and partnerships at college campuses.

He kept his day job while working on a side project that had no overlap or potential conflicts.

In 2008, when Zimride, the carpooling site, was running and making money, he quit Lehman Brothers.

Friends and family thought he was crazy. “Why would you quit on a sure thing like Lehman?” they’d ask.

Lehman Brothers went bankrupt three months later.

John Zimmer is now co-founder and major shareholder of a business with 1,500 employees that is worth north of $5 billion.

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