Alphabet may catch a Lyft as it eyes major investment

15 Sep 2017

Need a Lyft? Image: Roman Tiraspolsky/Shutterstock

Google’s parent company considers hitching a Lyft.

Alphabet has held talks with ride-sharing company Lyft about a potential investment, according to a report from Bloomberg. The investment looks set to be worth a total of $1bn, with the capital coming from Google, or Alphabet’s private equity firm, CapitalG.

At this stage, discussions are private, with sources unwilling to identify themselves and both Google and Lyft declining to comment on the story.

A controversial move by Alphabet

It would be a relatively controversial investment, given the legal action Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, is currently embroiled in – it’s suing Lyft rival Uber over theft of trade-secret technology.

Former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski is alleged to have stolen tech secrets that are now being used in Otto, a truck firm that Uber acquired in 2016 for $680m.

At the time of the filing of the suit, Waymo said: “We found that six weeks before his resignation, this former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board.”

All this legal drama is underpinned by Alphabet’s status as an Uber shareholder through its GV venture capital arm.

From underdog to major player

As CNET reported, Lyft has long been the underdog in the ride-sharing space, but has been making steady gains on its biggest competition. It’s likely that the litany of scandals that have plagued Uber in recent months has been a source of major benefits for Lyft.

The word is that the investment in Lyft is being driven by top-level executives, including Alphabet’s Larry Page.

This news comes hot on the heels of Samsung revealing a $300m self-driving car fund, and the announcement of a new partnership between the Korean tech behemoth and car technology firm Harman.

Need a Lyft? Image: Roman Tiraspolsky/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects