Uber, the ride-hailing company, could make an acquisition to boost its e-scooter business, reported Engadget.
Citing The Information, Engadget reported sources said Uber had talks with Bird and Lime, the scooter-sharing services, about a deal recently. Uber was reportedly trying to overcome shortages of scooters, which was hurting its growth. It was also going after rivals that were trying to get funding and as a result could be more open to a deal. The report noted Uber could strike a deal with one of the companies before the end of this year. Engadget noted that Lime and Uber declined to comment — and Travis VanderZanden, head of Bird, said the company is not for sale. A spokeswoman acting on his behalf declined to comment on whether talks took place, noted the report.
While rival Lyft’s scooter business is small, its recent purchase of Motivate, the operator of Citi Bike, gives it the largest scooter sharing network in the U.S. In June Lyft paid around $250 million to acquire Motivate. That is prompting Uber to act — and a purchase of Bird or Lime could help it quickly grow its own network beyond what if got from its April acquisition of JUMP, which cost it $200 million. In a blog post at the time, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote, “We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app, so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway or more.”
In addition to reports of deal making, Uber has been forging ahead with a bigger push into the scooter market. In late September it announced it will soon be focusing on electric bicycles and scooters for shorter trips. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that while in the short term the move would mean a further financial hit for the company, investors should understand that short-term losses are necessary in order to achieve longer-term goals. “During rush hour, it is very inefficient for a one-ton hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times. “We’re able to shape behavior in a way that’s a win for the user. It’s a win for the city. Short-term financially, maybe it’s not a win for us, but strategically long-term we think that is exactly where we want to head.”