May 15, 2017
Alex Wilhelm is the Editor in Chief of Crunchbase News, covering the intersection of startups and money.
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Morning Report: Let’s recall the history of Google and Uber, as it makes the recent news that Lyft and Waymo are now partners pretty damn funny.

Over the weekend, both Lyft and Waymo, the self-driving vehicle group that is part of Alphabet, the holding company that also owns Google, confirmed a new partnership. Mike Isaac of The New York Times broke the news yesterday:

The deal calls for [Lyft and Waymo] to work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts […].

It’s a big deal. It puts Waymo, and therefore Alphabet, inside the Lyft-GM world when it comes to self-driving tech. Lyft, the key United States-based competitor to Uber, raised bully sums from General Motors as part of its $1 billion Series F.

Lyft recently raised another $600 million while Uber remains mired in its own cultural failings, leadership exits, massive losses, and legal spats with Waymo over potential theft of the latter’s’ intellectual property.

And that’s when this all becomes high comedy. Google Ventures (now known as GV under Alphabet) put a staggering sum, to the tune of $258 million, into Uber back in 2013.

How quickly the winds of allegiance can change.

TechCrunch dove into the guts of the situation back then (I co-wrote the piece, for the sake of disclosure) and came up with the following:

We and Kara Swisher have both confirmed that Google Ventures is the largest investor in the round, pumping $257.79 million into the car service. The round values Uber at around $3.4 billion pre-money and $3.76 billion post.

Uber, as the Crunchbase-TechCrunch Unicorn Leaderboard indicates, is worth $62.5 billion. You can do the math on the potential return of the initial investment The Company Formerly Known As Google can pencil out from its Uber investment.

And, today, a different Alphabet company is partnering with the direct competitor of that investment, after already taking it to court.

2017 is quite the year so far, isn’t it?

From the Crunchbase Daily:

Silk Ventures raises $500M to scale startups in China

  • Silk Ventures, a venture capital firm with offices in London, Silicon Valley, Beijing, and Shenzen, has closed its inaugural investment fund with $500 million. The firm, which is backed by the Chinese government, will target later-stage technology companies looking to expand into China.

Lattice Data sells to Apple for around $200M

  • Apple has acquired Silicon Valley-based Lattice Data, a company that applies machine learning technology to take unstructured, “dark” data and turn it into structured information. The purchase price was around $200 million, TechCrunch reports.

Waymo, Lyft partner on self-driving cars

  • Waymo, Google’s self-driving car unit, has reportedly signed a partnering agreement with Uber rival Lyft to develop pilot projects and product development efforts aimed at boosting adoption of autonomous vehicle technology.

Rise of the robot startups

  • Venture capital funding for robotics startups has surged as the price of building robots has fallen in recent years. Funding for robotics startups hit $1.2 billion in 2016, a more than fivefold increase from 2012 levels, according to a Crunchbase News analysis. What this means for human jobs depends on who you talk to.