Lyft You Up: Rideshare IPO Could Mean Big Payday for GM

Back in 2016, General Motors invested half a billion bucks in Lyft, the rideshare company bent on taking Uber to school. When the deal was made, the companies portrayed it as a long-term strategic alliance. Since then, investments have been made in Lyft by GM’s competitors (namely Ford), and GM has made investments in potential Lyft competitors like Cruise Automation. Pro tip: don’t try to draw this particular family tree.

Today, Lyft went public on the stock market, seeing an astounding open of $87.24 a share. As a gearhead, why should you care about this? Well, remember that investment GM made in the company? The General now owns 18.6 million shares, which now translates into a net value of over $1.5 billion.

In a company besieged by idling plants and layoffs, suddenly finding an extra billion-and-a-half bucks on the books is surely a big deal.

It’s not as if GM can make like a Vegas winner and immediately cash out, however. To my understanding, the company cannot sell its stock for a period of six months after the IPO. Given market and socioeconomic volatility, who knows what Lyft’s stock price will be this autumn. However, some back-of-napkin math reveals that the stock would have to fall to just $26.88 in order for it to be worth less than the $500 million General Motors invested in the company three years ago.

Lyft’s stock is sure to fluctuate wildly over the days and weeks ahead before settling in to something remotely resembling an even keel. Since its IPO this morning, the price has bounced around like a proverbial rubber ball, currently sitting at $80.62 as of this writing. Even if GM eventually sells off some or all of its shares, it is unlikely they’ll sever ties with Lyft entirely.

You know all this has to rankle the corner offices in the Glass House, as Ford’s stock price has been languishing under $10 for ages. So far as they’re concerned, they’ve been innovating and powering their way to a portfolio of desirable vehicles only to see Wall Street reward yet another start-up (ish) company with gonzo valuations. It must be frustrating. For its part, GM stock sits around $37 today.

Keep in mind that GM also has its corporate fingers in the pies called Maven and Cruise Automation, so trying to tease out Lyft’s role in the company’s future plans is like trying to untangle a ball of fishing line that’s been sitting in the bottom of a tackle box for months.

Beyond General Motors, companies like Google (12.8 million shares) and Fidelity (about the same investment as GM) also stand to make a few bucks from Lyft. One thing’s for sure – the line between traditional automakers and new mobility solution companies is quickly being erased.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

Comments