Autotech Ventures Sees Itself as Talent Scout for Auto Startups

AutoTech Ventures LLC wants to be the talent scout for startups reinventing ground transportation. The venture capital firm, based in Palo Alto, California, has raised about $75 million to bankroll early-stage technologies enabling autonomous driving, improved cybersecurity in cars, entertainment systems and other automotive next big things.

Auto-parts makers and component suppliers, including Denso Corp., Mahle GmbH. and Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd., were among the investors in the firm, founded last year. As limited partners, they’ll get a share of AutoTech Ventures’ returns. “We aren’t in it for financial return — it’s all strategic,” said Tony Cannestra, director of corporate venture at Japan-based automotive components company Denso. He said the number of tech startups in transportation has more than doubled since he began investing in such companies almost five years ago, making it harder to hone in on the potential winners.

Lyft Raises $530 Million in Fight With Uber

Ridesharing startup Lyft has new capital and a new ally in its war against Uber. Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten led a $530 million round of funding for Lyft in a deal that closed this week.

The financing, which also included new investor Fortress Investment Group, values three-year-old Lyft at more than $2.5 billion. The capital gives Lyft more ammunition in its uphill battle against larger foe Uber, which has raised over $5 billion in funding and is available in more than four times as many cities. The two companies have undercut one another on prices, poached drivers and sworn investors to secrecy in their efforts to expand services they believe will play a big role in the future of urban transportation.