By Mathew Lynley for TechCrunch
It’s about as good a timing as any for Lyft to capitalize on the tidal wave of negative publicity that Uber is facing right now, and it looks like it might end up with a significant investment from Alphabet in the middle of that train wreck, according to a report by Axios.
That’s not to say that this is directly related to Uber, which has a new CEO and is trying to move on from the disaster of the past few months. Still, Alphabet appears to be discussing a $1 billion investment in Lyft in an effort led by CEO Larry Page, according to the report. Lyft last raised $600 million at a $7.5 billion valuation in April.
This would be an interesting move for Google, which invested in Uber early in its life through its investment arm GV. We’d heard some murmurs of something brewing between Alphabet and Lyft for a few weeks, but it was unclear what the outcome would be. Bloomberg also reported the news this afternoon. In the end, it appears that Lyft may get a big infusion of cash to fuel its efforts to pick away at Uber — especially as it appears primed to begin its move internationally, according to a report from The Information.
A big financing round like this would go a long way for Lyft, which can use the capital to provide aggressive driver and rider benefits through promotions. Lyft may have an opportunity to snag momentum away from Uber in key cities by ramping up in marketing and discounts. That is an expensive proposition, to be sure, but Lyft also has the benefit of the wave of troubles Uber has had recently. Such a large investment would also help Lyft remain independent.
Alphabet’s self-driving division, Waymo, has been fighting with Uber in court over allegations of theft of files. Earlier this week, a judge ruled that Uber had to turn over to Waymo the due diligence report for its acquisition of Otto.
Lyft announced that it had begun self-driving car development in earnest in July, saying it would ramp up hiring and had signed a lease for a big Palo Alto facility.
Representatives from Google and Lyft have not yet responded to requests for comment.