Lyft Reportedly Rebuffed GM’s Acquisition Interest
When General Motors invested $500 million into ride-hailing company Lyft in January, it may have had more in mind than a simple partnership to work on self-driving cars.
According a new report from The Information citing anonymous sources, GM (GM) recently made an offer to acquire Lyft for an unknown amount, but was turned down by the San Francisco company. Instead, Lyft is opting to raise new funding, according to the report. Recently, reports emerged that Lyft had hired boutique investment firm Qatalyst to help it explore options, such as a sale or raising more funding.
A Lyft spokeswoman declined to comment, while GM told Fortune that both companies are “happy with the alliance and the progress made to date” and declined to comment on the report.
Speculation as to whether GM’s investment in Lyft was indicative of its desire to acquire the ride-hailing company started as soon as the companies announced their partnership in January—and with good reason. Like its peers, the century-old U.S. automaker needs to make sure it’s part of an economy in which car ownership is no longer the only option, largely thanks to the rise of ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber. GM has also started to establish its own car-sharing programs to experiment with different models of car ownership and sharing.
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To that end, GM also acquired Cruise Automation a few months ago. The startup originally developed a system that would make existing cars into self-driving vehicles. Many experts and industry observers have dubbed self-driving cars as inevitable.
Acquiring Lyft—especially given GM’s plans to eventually use its service as a testing ground for its self-driving cars—would make sense. And competitors are taking a similar route. For instance, Daimler (DDAIF) recently bought a controlling stake in Hailo, a European taxi-hailing app.
But then again, automakers might not need to acquire an existing ride-hailing service to take part in the trend. Acquiring a company like Lyft would have exposed GM to the ride-sharing company’s operating losses and require further investment on its way to profitability.
Another frequently mentioned potential acquirer for Lyft is China’s Didi Chuxing, also a ride-hailing company. Didi invested $100 million into Lyft last year, and announced a partnership with the U.S. company, along with Grab in Southeast Asia and Ola in India, to eventually let their respective customers use each other’s services. However, Didi recently agreed to merge with (read: acquire) Uber’s Chinese operations.
Given Lyft and Uber’s ardent competition (and animosity), Didi may no longer be an option either. In fact, following the news of its merger with Uber China, Lyft said it would “evaluate” its partnership with Didi in the coming weeks.
And for now, Lyft seems to have time—it has $1.4 billion in the bank, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report and a source who spoke with Fortune.