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Alphabet May Invest $1 Billion in Ride-Hailing Co Lyft

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【Summary】Alphabet Inc is in discussions with Lyft Inc about a substantial investment in the ride-hailing company, potentially strengthening an existing partnership between the two companies.

Original Eric Walz    Sep 15, 2017 10:56 AM PT
Alphabet May Invest $1 Billion in Ride-Hailing Co Lyft

SAN FRANCISCO — Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) is in discussions with Lyft Inc about a substantial investment in the ride-hailing company, potentially strengthening an existing partnership between the two companies, a person familiar with the talks said on Thursday.

A major investment from one of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies could be a boost to Lyft, as the number 2 ride-hailing provider battles rival Uber Technologies for market share.

It was not immediately clear how large an investment Alphabet might make. Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, reported there was at least some discussion of a $1 billion deal.

So far, Alphabet and Lyft declined to comment.

In May, Alphabet's self-driving car unit Waymo and Lyft announced a partnership to work together on developing self-driving technology; without revealing many details of the agreement.

Recently, Lyft has been in an expansion mode, saying in August that it was available in 40 U.S. states covering 94 percent of the country's population.

Lyft raised $600 million in fresh funding in April, mostly from large global investment funds. The round valued the company at $7.5 billion, up from $5.5 billion at Lyft's previous financing more than a year earlier.

The additional investment could delay discussions of an initial public offering, which Lyft had planned likely for 2018, according to sources close to the company. Lyft previously planned not to raise any more funding prior to its IPO, the sources said.

Alphabet since 2013 has been an investor in Uber through its venture capital arm, known as GV. That relationship, though, became more complicated when Alphabet's Waymo sued Uber this year for alleged theft of trade secrets.

The announced comes as a surprise as Google was an early investor in Lyft's chief rival Uber since 2013, through its venture capital arm known as GV (Google Ventures), even though the two companies have since gotten litigious over allegations of trade secret theft. Alphabet is suing Uber for the theft of Waymo's circuit board designs and other technology used for self-driving cars. That court case is expected to start in October.

If the investment deal pans out, Google would join a growing list of prominent Lyft backers, including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA), ride-sharing group Didi Chuxing, and Internet group Tencent.



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