Lyft was seeking as much as $9 billion in a buyout


It failed to find another buyer after GM expressed interest in acquiring the company.

Lyft will continue its fight for marketshare alone, at least for now.

The ride-hailing startup that’s become a perennial runner up to global behemoth Uber had recently sought as much as $9 billion in a buyout offer but failed to secure serious interest, sources told Recode.

After General Motors, a Lyft investor, expressed the possibility of buying the company, the startup hired investment bank Qatalyst to solicit competing offers from other potential buyers, a common practice after receiving buyout interest. It approached Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and even Apple, sources say.

Lyft eventually brought its $9 billion asking price down during conversations with potential suitors, but none of the tech companies ended up placing a bid, according to a source familiar with the talks. GM never made a formal bid, people familiar said.

Lyft’s latest funding round valued the company at $5.5 billion.

Representatives for Lyft, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Qatalyst declined to comment.

The New York Times first reported on the negotiations but its story didn’t indicate a potential deal price. The Information first reported on GM expressing interest in acquiring Lyft.

Lyft nonetheless remains positive about its financial prospects. In a leaked letter to investors, Lyft also indicated that it expected to continue to set new records and saw more than six time growth in its revenue between 2014 and 2015. In fact, Lyft has $1.4 billion in the bank, according to a source close to the company. That’s enough to get the company to profitability, the source contended. Yet there are no signs the company, which at its peak saw 14 million rides a month, can catch up to Uber, which did 62 million rides in the same month.

Now that Uber has unloaded its China operations, a money pit by many estimates, it’s free to focus on its other priorities — one of which is winning in the U.S.

In that case, finding a buyer may be Lyft’s best option.

While it’s not out of the realm of possibility that these companies could make a bid on the company at a later time, it’s become clear that at present Lyft has few options outside of selling to G.M.

For one, Uber isn’t slowing down. The company’s move to pull out of China may have been a signal that the company was accepting defeat in its largest market but it also was a sign that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is preparing to take the company public — several sources expect the company will do so in 2017.

To attain a better IPO position, sources say it’s in Uber’s best interest to either drive its only U.S. competitor out of the market or at least significantly handicap it. With its recent $1 billion infusion from Didi, Uber has the resources to do so through subsidies and promotions.

A subsidy war would, however, be more expensive for Uber given its ride volume. Since Uber performs tens of millions more rides than Lyft performs per month, the company would be subsidizing more rides than Lyft does. But that’s not exactly a death sentence for Uber given that it also has more money to spend.

Without the resources of a larger company like General Motors, which has a vested interest in preserving Lyft’s viability given its collaboration with the company on a network of self-driving cars, it’s unlikely Lyft will be able to sustain a prolonged subsidy war with Uber, according to sources.

There is, of course, still the possibility that Lyft could be acquired by another automaker like Ford or even Tesla — both of which need a ride-hail partner to achieve some of its ambitions to create a shared network of self-driving cars.

But it’s unlikely GM would relinquish a relationship that gives them an edge at a time that automakers are scrambling to ramp up their self-driving efforts.

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