Ride-sharing apps have been attracting big money since the start of the year, with Saudia Arabia's $3.5 billion investment Thursday into Uber Technologies Inc. the most recent example of the industry's $9 billion haul.
Some are passive investments in the future of transportation. Others have a strategic rationale, ranging from a desire to sell more cars to cab drivers to upending the traditional rental-car market. In several cases, automakers are joining startups in ventures that could end car ownership as we know it today. In that future, we get to Point A from Point B summoning fleets of self-driving cars by smartphone.
Put into context: The amount flowing to ride-sharing apps so far in 2016 is almost twice the amount invested in another hot startup segment — food-related technology startups including delivery services — in all of 2015.
Here's a list of the most notable ride-sharing investments in the past six months, ranked by deal size, and what they are all about.
Uber — June 2. Saudia Arabia's sovereign wealth fund makes a $3.5 billion investment in the best-known ride sharing service. The investment is seen as a chance for Saudi Arabia to further diversify its portfolio into overseas companies and the fast-growing tech industry.
Didi — June 1. Jean Liu, the president of Uber's biggest global competitor, Chinese ride-hailing company Didi, says her company is working on closing a funding round of more than $3.5 billion.
Didi — May 13. China's answer to Uber scores a $1 billion investment from Apple. Didi Chuxing already handles more than 11 million rides per day for some 300 million users across China. Apple's investment is seen as both as a savvy financial investment at a time that profits from its core smartphone business are slowing, as well as perhaps an effort to gain R&D for its own automotive ambitions. Some suspect what Apple really wants is data from all those millions of daily rides to help train a self-driving car that the company has under wraps.
Lyft — Jan. 4. General Motors invests $500 million in San Francisco ride sharing app Lyft. The two companies say they will develop a network of autonomous vehicles as well as a series of hubs where customers can rent cars on a short-term basis.
Gett — May 24. Volkswagen invests $300 million into a strategic partnership with Israeli-based taxi hailing service Gett, which has differentiated itself by allowing users to order up on-demand rides from London's traditional black cabs — right after bidding to buy one of the biggest of those traditional businesses, Radio Taxis.
Scoop — May 25. BMW's venture capital arm, BMW I, makes an undisclosed investment as part of a $5.1 million fundraising round for the California-based carpooling app that matches employees of companies such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft Corp. for commuting in the San Francisco Bay area. BMW has previously helped start another Seattle carpooling service called ReachNow that lets users book chauffeur services.
Uber — May 24. Toyota enters into an agreement with the ride-sharing giant that includes a strategic investment of undisclosed amount. Toyota also will begin offering Uber drivers a new car leasing program.
Jeremy Kahn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.