The electric scooter rental company, Lime, is teaming up with Uber to bring you a new way to get around your city. Uber Technologies Inc. is investing in Lime as part of a $335 million financing round. What does this mean for Uber though? Under the deal, Lime’s scooters will become available to rent on Uber’s app. So instead of taking an Uber (car), you can rent an Uber scooter to get to your destination. Uber also plans to put their logo on some of the scooters. As of right now, Lime’s scooters can be found in 70 cities in the United States and Europe.
This isn’t a new move for Uber though. They recently made a similar agreement with the startup called Jump Bikes, which, of course, rents electric bikes. They then went on to purchase the company for more than $100 million in April. Uber says that it still has plans to roll out the e-bikes in more cities throughout the world. This latest move by Uber, however, makes things complicated as there is quite the scooter war brewing.
Since Lime came to be 18 months ago, they have raised $467 million. Another company, Bird Rides Inc., has almost as much money. Interestingly though, Bird was founded by Travis VanderZanden, who actually used to be an Uber executive. Bird uses darker colors, and according to reports, there is some controversy surrounding its founder – VanderZanden. Lime said its service, which lets customers rent scooters scattered around cities and leave them on the sidewalk for the next person to pick up, is available in more than 70 markets in the U.S. and Europe. The new cash will go toward buying tens of thousands of lightweight electric scooters.
This partnership, however, raises a lot of questions. To start, Uber has filed an application in San Francisco to introduce a scooter service of its own. So what gives? Why not just maintain this partnership with Lime? Also, there is a risk of these, and the bikes from cutting into Uber’s main business of car fares. Uber has enough problems without their own business model, cutting into its profits. So this whole thing doesn’t make sense. Or does it? We are living in a time where many of us are environmentally conscious about our own actions. If we need to get from point a to point b, a bike or scooter might be a better option than a car. Not to mention, depending on what city you are in, the scooter or bike option might be better because of the amount of traffic congestion.
Uber themselves are a bit of a mystery, don’t you think? It seems that the new CEO is building a new strategy, which might end up being great for the company, but in the meantime, they are in a bit of a transition period. Which makes it very confusing as to what they do, or don’t do. The new CEO wants to transform the company’s app into a central place for all kinds of urban transportation. And while I understand this, it’s kind of confusing. The app does (or will) include public transit, rental cars, scooters, and bicycles. This partnership with Lime might be incredible and very lucrative, but right now it just seems kind of strange. Hopefully, the rationale behind why Uber is doing this will become apparent in the near future.