* General Motors to invest $500 mln in ride-sharing service
* GM, Lyft to develop on-demand network of autonomous
* Lyft says raises $1 bln in latest funding round, valuing
it at $5.5 bln
By Steve Trousdale
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 4 General Motors Inc
and Lyft Inc Monday announced an alliance to develop an
on-demand network of autonomous vehicles as well as a $500
million investment by the automaker as part of a $1 billion
fund-raising round by the ride-sharing service.
The two companies said the partnership, which involves one
of GM's largest investments in another company, stemmed from
their shared view that autonomous vehicles will first reach
consumers as part of a ride-sharing service, rather than
vehicles owned by drivers.
"We had a really common view of the future" with Lyft, said
GM President Dan Ammann in an interview with Reuters. Ammann
will join Lyft's board as part of the deal.
In the same interview, Lyft President John Zimmer echoed
that view, saying the "culture and vision are very alike"
between the two companies.
Lyft said other investors in this fundraising round included
Kingdom Holding Company, the firm of prominent Saudi investor
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal which invested $100 million, Janus
Capital Management, Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc
, ride-hailing service Didi Kuaidi and Chinese Internet
giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
"Lyft has built a strong business with fast growth and we
believe in their long-term success," Alwaleed said in a release.
Kingdom and Alwaleed are major investors in U.S. tech companies;
together they own more than 5 percent of Twitter Inc,
The GM-Lyft deal comes as automakers and Silicon Valley
companies are exploring new alliances and new technologies that
will reshape the global automotive industry.
"We think our business and personal mobility will change
more in the next five years than the last 50," said Ammann.
GM and Lyft said the partnership would tap into GM's work on
developing autonomous vehicles and Lyft's software that
automates matching drivers and passengers, routing and payments
to create a network of cars that would operate themselves and be
available on demand.
GM and Lyft did not provide a timeline for this on-demand
network. But they said the partners would immediately offer Lyft
drivers short-term rentals of GM cars to use to offer the
Lyft said this latest funding round valued the company at
$5.5 billion as it engages in a fundraising race with its
biggest competitor, Uber Technologies Inc. Lyft said
it has raised a total of $2 billion since August 2013. Uber is
reportedly in the midst of a $2.1 billion funding round that
would value it as high as $64.6 billion.
(Reporting by Stephen R. Trousdale)