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Lyft said to be in talks for funding with $2B valuation

Ride-sharing startup in talks to raise $250 million, and maybe as much as $500 million, the New York Times reports.

Lyft is reportedly looking to dial up some new funding. Lyft

Lyft is said to be looking for new funding as it challenges its better-financed rival Uber in the car-for-hire race.

Lyft is in discussions to raise $250 million, and maybe as much as $500 million, for a valuation of at least $2 billion, according to the New York Times. If the round closes, it would be the second funding round in less than a year for the 3-year-old startup and help it close the gap on Uber's funding lead.

Lyft and Uber, which both use mobile apps to connect passengers with part-time drivers of private cars, have engaged in a public battle to win over more customers for years. There have been price-slashing skirmishes, turf battles and Uber even admitted to carrying out a secretive campaign to recruit Lyft drivers.

Despite the battles, both companies have managed to expand at breakneck pace over the past couple of years. Lyft is now in more than 60 US cities and Uber is in roughly 250 cities worldwide.

But the similarities end at the amount of investment each company has attracted. Uber announced in December it had closed a new round of funding totaling $1.2 billion, giving it a valuation of about $40 billion and the title of the world's highest-valued venture-backed company.

Those figures outpace Lyft, which announced in April that it raised $250 million in funding, giving it a total raised to date of $332.5 million.

But Lyft has apparently profited from a pile-on of bad publicity Uber experienced in November. After some off-color comments made by a company executive that he would like to spend $1 million to "dig up dirt on its critics in the media," scores of people took to Twitter to say they were deleting their Uber accounts. Lyft didn't reveal specific numbers, but a company spokeswoman told CNET at the time that the following week was the startup's "biggest week ever in terms of ride volume."

A Lyft spokeswoman declined to comment on the funding report.