It wasn’t all that long ago that apps on smartphones were little more than distractions to pass the time or simple ways to access the web. Of course, now that we’re in 2016 to a lot of people the idea that an app can’t do something is more than a little strange. With the likes of Uber available to people not only in the United States but further afield, it’s no wonder people believe that apps can do practically anything. Of course, there’s a big rival to Uber here in the United States, and that’s Lyft. The firm known for their somewhat outlandish cars and a more relaxed feel has just recently completed another round of funding, securing $500 Million from none other than General Motors.
The Series F funding round leaves Lyft with an estimated valuation of $5.5 Billion, and while $500 Million was from from General Motors, the other half was made up of previous investors such as Rakuten and Alibaba as well as Saudi Prince Al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holding Company, Janus Capital Management. The investment from General Motors is the more interesting thing here, as it brings the two companies together into a strategic partnership, one that could give GM a platform they sorely need to test their own self-driving cars. The company has autonomous Chevy Volts that they can test on their own campus, but what a firm like GM really need is a platform to get people inside the vehicles, and what better pairing than Lyft and self-driving cars.
General Motors is the firm behind OnStar as well, and there’s potential to bring OnStar into the ridesharing firm as well. Uber will of course continue to grow, and has a head-start of about two-years over Lyft, but GM’s President Dan Amman notes that “Lyft is growing faster than anybody else”. Whether or not we’ll see Lyft cars driving people to their destinations on their own, powered by OnStar remains to be seen, but this is a decent amount of money put into a firm that, a couple of years ago, might have been dismissed as nothing but a passing fad.