Amazon expressed its voracious appetite for new corners of commerce last week with its agreement to spend nearly $14 billion to acquire high-end grocery chain Whole Foods.
Now, how will it get all of that chia pudding and college-educated beef to consumers?
Perhaps another company that could fit well in Amazon’s cart is ride-hailing company Lyft, rival to the scandal-ridden Uber, which as of today (June 21) has officially parted ways with CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
Uber dwarfs Lyft in value. The latter was valued in April at $7.5 billion, compared with Uber’s nearly $70 billion. But Uber also eclipses Lyft in conflicts, leaving Lyft to look like the more moral choice among ride-hailing companies (though as my colleague Alison Griswold recently noted, that’s a very low bar).
While Uber flails, Lyft has had a busy few months, forging a partnership with Waymo, (paywall) the self-driving-cars spinoff from Google parent Alphabet, and raising more money. Last year, General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft, with the aim of developing self-driving cars. GM paid $1 billion to buy self-driving startup Cruise Automation later that year.
But while transporting goods, not people, has been Amazon’s focus, Lyft’s network of drivers presumably could help Amazon delve deeper into the tricky, time-sensitive task of grocery delivery. It is already well-known that Amazon is aggressively building its own transportation network instead of relying solely on third parties. That vision may not include many humans at all, but rather self-driving vehicles and drones.
Admittedly, a deal between Amazon and Lyft is quite a long-shot. Lyft already has plenty of big-name companies involved with it, and in any case, Amazon is not gearing up to become a taxi company—a business that, for now anyway, would net it a pool of human drivers transporting not just packages but human passengers.
But Amazon’s expertise in logistics isn’t totally incongruous to the transportation business. If it still has room to digest another mega-deal, it perhaps could find a way to make Lyft fit in, or at the very least, it could take a bite.