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

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.