General Motors knows that, in the future, not everyone is going to own their own car. Lyft knows that, in the future, not everyone is even going to drive a car. So, as if awakening from a shared futurist dream, the companies are joining forces and seeking to complement one another.
GM is investing $500 million in the ride-summoning startup, representing half of Lyft's current $1 billion funding round. The move also marks the first time a major auto company has provided a small startup with funding, forming a new kind of alliance that might have been unforeseen just years ago.
Lyft may represent but a fraction of the ride-hailing economy dominated by Uber, and so far it hasn't expressed an interest in autonomous vehicles. But for its part, General Motors is the largest American automaker, and Wired writes that the company has collaborated with Carnegie Mellon since 2007 with hopes to introduce semi-autonomous features in vehicles next year. More immediately, the two companies hope to create car rental hubs, providing some Lyft contract drivers with their vehicles.
"We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” the Business Times quotes GM President Dan Ammann as saying. Meanwhile, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer shared with BuzzFeed that “[GM and Lyft] both believe that autonomous vehicles will be introduced through a service like Lyft rather than through individuals owning autonomous vehicles."
When will all this come to pass? Within a 10 year time frame, according to Zimmer.
Lyft's shiny new $5.5 billion valuation comes with further investments from the likes of Janus Capital Management, Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc., and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Co. Over at General Motors, further change is afoot: the Associated Press reports in the LA Times that the company's chief executive Mary Barra will also serve as its company's chairwoman.