Alphabet Mulling $1 Billion Investment in Lyft, Report Says
This could be bad news for Uber.
Google parent Alphabet is considering investing about $1 billion in Lyft, according to Bloomberg. That could strengthen the ties between two of Uber's main autonomous-car rivals.
Alphabet has been in talks with Lyft regarding a potential investment, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter. While the investment is reportedly far from a done deal, the money could come from Google or CapitalG, the company's private equity arm. Lyft already has a partnership with Alphabet's Waymo self-driving car division.
Waymo is currently suing Uber, alleging that the ride-sharing company used trade secrets stolen by engineer Anthony Levandowski when he was a Waymo employee. Waymo is currently stepping up its efforts to compete with Uber in autonomous driving: CEO John Krafcik recently said the company will not only look at autonomous ride-sharing, but also autonomous trucking, a field Uber previously had almost to itself.
Meanwhile, Lyft remains Uber's main ride-sharing competitor. While still much smaller than Uber, Lyft has seen its market share grow recently, in part because of its rival's many scandals. Like Uber, Lyft believes self-driving cars will be a boon to ride-sharing, and is moving aggressively to develop the technology.
Lyft and Waymo announced their partnership in May. In July, Lyft announced plans to launch an in-house self-driving car division as well. The company also has two partnerships with startups for autonomous ride-sharing pilot programs: NuTonomy in Boston, and Drive.ai in San Francisco.
But a major investment from Alphabet could drive Lyft closer to Waymo. The two companies might be a good fit for each other: Waymo has been looking for a commercial outlet for its autonomous driving tech for years; Lyft, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer to autonomous driving, but has the commercial expertise Waymo lacks.
Uber is trying to develop the technology and commercialize it itself, but Waymo and Lyft could divide the work. Alphabet's cash would also make Lyft stronger. Either way, this can't be good news for Uber.