Mobile Commerce

Saudi Prince Leads Lyft's $247M Round

The ride-hailing investment space is heating up and from some more interesting players in recent months.

The latest to throw his name in the space is Saudi Arabia’s Prince al-Waleed bin Talal through his firm Kingdom Holding Co., which will be investing $104.9 million of a $247.7 million round in Lyft, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing startup. This investment would give the prince's firm a 2.3 percent ownership in Lyft.

Interestingly enough about the investment is that Lyft is only currently available in the U.S. after it pulled back its overseas expansion plan. But reports indicate the firm is a major investment across multiple industries. This latest investment round would give Lyft a $4.92 billion estimated value.

These funding round details come following reports on Dec. 21 that Lyft had filed documents indicating it had given the nod to a maximum of $1 billion in preferred shares. As Quartz noted, Uber has already raised at least $1 billion in six rounds of funding since June 2014, and it's currently on the hunt to complete a whopper of a $2.1 billion round as well. With a projected valuation of $62.5 billion, Uber most likely isn't shaking in its boots at the news of another Lyft funding round, but that also begs the questions of why Lyft is sticking in the seemingly unwinnable fight at all and why investors would look at these numbers and see an opportunity for profit.

The answers to both might lie overseas. Lyft recently announced partnerships with several of China's largest ride-hailing services, and with the country only just now opening its borders to Western companies like Lyft and Uber, the impetus and reasoning for $1 billion in funding could be tied to quickly and efficiently establishing operations in a major country that Uber has yet to assimilate into its collective.

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