Winter is coming. It’s time for scooter startups to find a cozy, protective blanket to get them through the chilly months.
For Lime and Bird, that could be Uber . The pair of venture capital darlings, which both operate fleets of electric scooters around the world, are said to be in talks with the SoftBank-backed ride-hailing behemoth about a possible acquisition, as first reported by The Information.
The news follows Lyft’s acquisition of bike-rental service Motivate, Ford’s acquisition of dockless bike and e-scooter startup Spin and Uber’s acquisition of JUMP Bikes. The trio of transactions are likely the first of many deals, as M&A activity in the scooter sector will inevitably heat up in the coming months.
Uber, which has scooters available to rent within its mobile app in Los Angeles and Austin courtesy of JUMP, is looking to one of the two startups to beef up its scooter supply, though both companies are denying reports of an impending deal. Bird’s chief executive officer Travis VanderZanden told TechCrunch simply that “Bird is not for sale.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lime told us they are “focused on building an independent company,” or, in other words, “Lime is not interested in Uber’s courtship.”
Uber declined to comment.
Scooter startups don’t come cheap
An acquisition of either Lime or Bird would be quite expensive. Both companies are worth more than $1 billion and would surely hike up their valuations amid M&A talks, especially considering reports that both are currently fundraising at even higher valuations. Bird, for its part, was valued at $2 billion this summer and Lime boasts at least a $1.1 billion price tag. Uber already holds a minority stake in Lime, though, which would cheapen that deal a bit.
An Uber acquisition would surely satisfy their investors, but I’d wager neither Lime nor Bird’s founders are ready to relinquish their independence. Both startups have been working tirelessly to build sustainable businesses and expand beyond bikes and scooters. Bird recently launched Bird Platform, an interesting new service that allows entrepreneurs to buy Bird’s scooters at-cost and rent them out themselves as a side business.
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