Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL - Free Report) could invest roughly $1 billion in ride-hailing provider, Lyft Inc., per a Bloomberg report.The deal could be yet another effort by the company to increase its chances of becoming the leader in self-driving vehicles and also to add fuel to its push against Uber.
Earlier, Alphabet had invested in Uber, but now the relationship between the two has soured. Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, is currently involved in a fierce court battle with Uber over alleged intellectual property theft and patent violation.
We believe that Alphabet’s expertise in data collecting, storing and monetizing makes it a formidable player in the autonomous driving market. An early breakthrough in the space, based on deals like Lyft, will encourage investors and boost Alphabet’s share price and competitive position against the likes of Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , Intel (INTC - Free Report) and NVIDIA (NVDA - Free Report) .
Over the past 12 months, the company’s shares have rallied 17.8% compared with the industry’s gain of 17.2%.
Alphabet Strengthens Relation with Lyft
The tech giant is trying to strengthen its relationship with Lyft. If news of Alphabet’s investment in Lyft turns out to be true, it will be a win-win situation for both the players.
However, the talks are said to be in their early stages. It is also not clear which Alphabet division would make the $1 billion investment in the popular ride-hailing platform.
Moreover, the duo, Waymo and Lyft, are already working on a self-driving vehicle pilot program. They plan to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product-development efforts. Lately, Alphabet has been throwing a wrench into Uber’s lofty self-driving car technology ambitions, given its resources and technology strengths.
Given that Uber currently is not in a favorable position, as far as its ongoing legal confrontation with Waymo is concerned, these deals could help both of them (Waymo and Lyft) to gain an increasing share in the growing self driving vehicle market.
Uber’s mess with Alphabet is a gift for Lyft
The two camps, Alphabet and Uber, do not live in harmony any more.
This, we believe, is definitely benefiting Uber’s biggest rival Lyft. If this deal with Alphabet materializes, it could derail Uber’s self-driving car efforts or at least slow down its pace.This could help Lyft to get an edge and outmuscle Uber to become the largest U.S. ride-hailing provider. It is currently the second largest ride-hailing service in the U.S. by ride volume after Uber.
Although these conflicts with Alphabet have not been earning a good name for Uber, it still has big brand recognition in and outside San Francisco and Los Angeles. Reportedly, till now, Uber has received $12.9 billion in venture funding and is valued at $68 billion, while Lyft has received only $2.6 billion and is valued at $7.5 billion. Therefore, Lyft still needs to remain on its toes to outdo Uber in the near future.
It goes without saying that the autonomous driving space will see a spate of innovations in the next few years, both by technology companies and automakers, as well as by smaller startups. In fact, CB Insights estimates financing in the auto tech startup sector have been over $1 billion in 2016 and more investments will surely follow. This is one of the best places to be in because the technology is just being developed.
With Alphabet taking so much interest in the autonomous driving space segment, more investments in this space are expected to happen sooner or later.
Currently, Alphabet has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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