Lyft Was In Talks To Buy Startup At Centre Of Google Lawsuit Before Uber Acquired It

The self-driving truck startup Otto was sold to Uber in August 2016 in a deal valued at nearly $US600 million ($767 million). The deal set Uber on a collision course with Google: Google is currently suing Uber, claiming that Uber acquired trade secrets stolen by Anthony Levandowski, an Otto co-founder and former Google employee.

Photo: AP

But it could easily have been another ridesharing company in Google’s crosshairs.

Otto co-founder Lior Ron testified in court today that he also negotiated with Lyft about selling the startup to them. The negotiations were serious, according to Ron. Lyft proposed a dollar amount that it would offer for Otto, as well as technical milestones that the acquired Otto team would be expected to achieve. However, Lyft didn’t offer a term sheet, Ron said, and the discussions never solidified into a deal.

Ultimately, Levandowski and Ron decided to sell to Uber instead because Uber supported the pair’s vision of building self-driving trucks. Lyft was disinterested in the trucking business, Ron testified.

Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick moved quickly to form a partnership with Levandowski, according to court testimony. In a hearing yesterday, Kalanick explained that he met with Levandowski in December 2015 to discuss a deal. Otto finalised its sale to Uber in April 2016, court records show.

A Lyft spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the negotiations.