Google parent company Alphabet, Inc. ($GOOG) is reportedly in discussions to invest a cool $1 billion in Lyft, a move which signals support for Uber’s main U.S. competitor – and very likely designed to go hand-in-hand with the Mountain View, CA tech giant’s investments in autonomous vehicles.
‘People familiar with the matter’ tell Bloomberg said the discussions are private, and the investment may come from Google or Alphabet’s private-equity arm, CapitalG.
Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary, has signed an agreement with Lyft to test autonomous vehicles together. Although Alphabet is an Uber shareholder through it’s GV venture capital arm, Waymo is currently suing Uber over self-driving technology.
The self-driving technology arm of Google parent Alphabet, filed the lawsuit in February, alleging theft of trade secrets that Uber planned to use in its autonomous vehicles. The case centers around engineer Anthony Levandowski, who Waymo claims stole 14,000 documents before leaving the company and founding Otto, a self-driving trucking company which Uber later acquired.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Lyft failed to find a taker for a $9 billion buyout in 2016 after shopping themselves to GM, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, and even Apple, according to recode.
While not exactly what they were looking for, Lyft can use an extra $1 billion to pursue more aggressive growth – offering subsidies to drivers, discounts to riders, and marketing. Lyft kicked off an ad campaign this month starring Jeff Bridges.
Lyft co-founder John Zimmer has said financial independence is a priority, however some investors have suggested Alphabet would be a natural home for the ride-hailing startup. Lyft held informal talks with Alphabet and other potential acquirers last year but didn’t pursue a sale.