Ride-sharing app Lyft has confirmed a $530 million Series E funding round, led by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.
In a blog post, Lyft said that the money will be used to
- expand its footprint in the US
- more innovation
- expand Lyft Line
The business is only two-and-a-half years old, and the Series E funding gives it a reported valuation of $2.5bn. The amount raised by the business runs to $860 million so far.
Comparisons with Uber are being made in mainstream media reports, but a subtle and significant difference is that Lyft's core business is ride-sharing with an element of the taxi business thrown in, while Uber is focussed on taxis with some elements of ride-sharing.
One thing they both have in common is some A-list investors, and while the official announcement doesn't mention Asia-Pacific, Rakuten's involvement in the Series E round is interesting.
Particularly when Alibaba Group is also involved in Lyft, having contributed to the Series D funding announced last year.
And another Japanese investor, Softbank, was involved in a $600 million funding round for Kuaidi Dache, a Chinese taxi-sharing app, earlier this year. Alibaba was also part of the round.
A couple of weeks later, Kuaidi then announced plans to merge with Didi Dache, another taxi app, which includes Alibaba's rival TenCent as a backer.
To complete the circle, China's other internet giant Baidu has a stake in and global co-operation agreement with Uber.
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