Published: Sat, September 16, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Will Alphabet Invest $1B in Ride-Hailing Provider Lyft?

Will Alphabet Invest $1B in Ride-Hailing Provider Lyft?

Alphabet's possible investment in Lyft comes at a time when the search giant is squaring off in court against Uber, which it has accused of building self-driving auto sensor technology based on trade secrets stolen by a former Google vehicle engineer, Anthony Levandowski.

Alphabet has been exploring closer ties with Lyft ever since it fell out with Uber. Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving vehicle division, is battling Uber in court over alleged stolen trade secrets.

Google would join an already plentiful group of Lyft backers that includes Chinese tech powers such as e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA), ride-sharing group Didi Chuxing, and Internet group Tencent; automakers General Motors (GM) and Jaguar Land Rover; and prominent investment firms including KKR (KKR) and VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. In May, Waymo and Lyft announced they were working together on testing self-driving taxis.

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Before the falling out, Alphabet's venture capital arm, GV, was an investor in Uber.

We believe that Alphabet's expertise in data collecting, storing and monetizing makes it a formidable player in the autonomous driving market. Lyft's most recent financing, a $600 million round that closed in April, was led by KKR. The company also has two partnerships with startups for autonomous ride-sharing pilot programs: NuTonomy in Boston, and Drive.ai in San Francisco.

Competition is heating up in the ride-hailing service industry. Either way, this can't be good news for Uber.

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Last month, Uber chose Dara Khosrowshah to be the new chief, replacing Travis Kalanick. Alphabet and Lyft both declined to comment on the subject.

However, Lyft could come as a welcomed addition to Canadian streets, as it's not only known for being a safer ride-share option but also for the treatment of its drivers.

Given that Uber now is not in a favorable position, as far as its ongoing legal confrontation with Waymo is concerned, these deals could help both of them (Waymo and Lyft) to gain an increasing share in the growing self driving vehicle market.

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