It looks like ride-hailing app company Uber really wants to be the go-to place for all things transportation.
In April, Uber acquired electric scooter startup Jump. This marks the app-based ride-sharing company’s latest interest in this budding industry, as sources report Uber has been in talks with both Bird and Lime. Bird and Lime, of course, are two of the biggest brands in the scooter sharing world, if not the biggest names. Snapping up Jump, then, certainly positions Uber to make a real impact in that arm of their business, possibly by scooping up additional competitors who are much smaller and more vulnerable because of a shortage of capital.
At one point, there was an inkling that Uber would, in fact, post a multibillion-dollar takeover of Bird but it should be noted that Uber has already invested heavily in Lime. If you are an Uber user then you probably already know that Uber customers can actually rent a Lime bike directly from the Uber smartphone app.
Whatever Uber chooses to do there is motivation to make that decision as quickly as possible. Electric scooters, of course, are growing in popularity and that means a) competition will increase and b) acquisitions will only become more difficult and/or complicated as the industry grows. Fortunately for Uber, competitor Lyft has only a very small e-bike business right now, but they did manage to successfully buyout Citi Bike operator Motivate, which has given Lyft the largest bike-sharing network in the United States. Thus, Uber’s takeover of one (or more) of the biggest names in that industry could certainly cause a stir.
As such, sources report that Uber is looking to strike a deal (with whoever is willing, apparently) by the end of this year. This could be difficult, however, since Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden has told reporters that “Bird is not for sale.” Of course, that does not mean he won’t change his mind or cannot be convinced.
But while scooter sharing has become very popular for commuters and casual city-goers, city officials are not very fond of them. They are easily abandoned, which makes them look more like litter than the alternative transportation they are supposed to be. So it will definitely be interesting to see how things unfold as Uber (et al) strategize moves to expand into this industry too.