Last week, my colleague Tim Lee explained why Lyft is going to be like Android, licensing and partnering with others rather than doing everything in-house. On Friday, Reuters reported on a notable deal that adds more weight to that analysis.
According to an unnamed source “familiar with the talks,” Alphabet is in the frame as a potential investor. Lyft has already been working with Alphabet-owned Waymo for some months, but this deal would give the ride sharing service a big infusion of cash.
It has been a few good weeks for the pink-hued transportation service. Last week it also partnered with Drive.ai, which, like Waymo, is working on autonomous vehicle technology. At the end of August, it also announced an expansion into another 32 states, giving it access to almost the entire population. The relative lack of fuss that has accompanied all of this is in stark contrast to the lawsuits and boardroom intrigue now synonymous with rival Uber.
It’s also not surprising that so many other companies want to work with Lyft. Of the three industry trends that now get called “mobility,” the ride sharing network may be the toughest to build from scratch. It may not be a harder engineering challenge than producing an electric vehicle or developing an autonomous driving system, but it requires other skills like persuading the public to trust you and use your services.
So, why reinvent the wheel if those nice people and their pink mustaches are prepared to share theirs? Evidently, Alphabet could become the latest company to embrace this line of thinking.