As Uber Founders, Lyft Thrives

By: Bridget Clerkin December 1, 2017
Lyft has launched its self-driving test vehicles on California streets. It's the next in a series of gains for the Uber rival.
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Uber may have been a trailblazer in the world of ridesharing, but as the innovative company continues to crumble under the weight of its own ambition, Lyft is there to pick up the pieces.

The pink-mustachioed ride service recently announced that it will start testing its own autonomous vehicles in California. The maneuver not only keeps Lyft in direct opposition with ridesharing rival Uber, which has been testing autonomous vehicles in the Golden State since last December (although only legally for several months), but also pits the company against 44 others who are using California’s roads as driverless laboratories.

While the move may stoke competition in the autonomous arena, it was only made possible through collaboration within the industry.

Lyft has made the most of the seemingly endless turmoil engulfing Uber this year, aggressively securing partnerships across the spectrum of automotive technology that may have otherwise gone to its rival. Perhaps most valuable in its stable of corporate companions is Alphabet, Google’s parent company, which imbued Lyft with $1 billion in a landmark fundraising deal this October.

Alphabet also assisted Lyft in raising nearly $500 million in funding late this month, helping the Silicon Valley start-up boost its total valuation to $11.5 billion. (Uber, despite its parade of scandals this year, retains a value of nearly $70 billion.)

Still, Alphabet—which is currently embroiled in its own drama with Uber—is far from the only partner Lyft has wooed. In 2017 alone, Lyft has signed contracts with Ford and Boston-based self-driving tech start-up NuTonomy. Both deals signal Lyft’s increasing focus on autonomous driving, with Lyft facilitating the rides, Ford supplying the cars, NuTonomy bringing the tech savvy, and Alphabet bankrolling the project. Now, California will provide the space to experiment, allowing Lyft to move toward that autonomous end goal in earnest.

But with a growing piggy bank and allies in some of the world’s biggest automakers and technology producers, it seems the ride for Lyft may have just begun.

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