By Carlo Versano
Uber is sniffing around a possible acquisition of either Lime or Bird, the leaders in the growing e-scooter rental market, according to a report in The Information. One of the reporters who broke that story told Cheddar on Monday that there is a "growing realization" among ridehailing companies that bike and scooters will continue to be a significant part of the urban mobility landscape.
Uber's ultimate target is "going to come down to price," said The Information's Cory Weinberg.
Both Uber and rival Lyft bought their own bikeshare operators this year ー Uber acquired Jump and Lyft now owns the Citibike-parent Motivate, making it the largest bikeshare in the country.
As for scooters, Uber already has a minority stake in Lime and started renting scooters through its app this summer.
Lyft has also started rolling out scooter rentals in cities including Denver and Washington, D.C, and is expected to expand Lyft-branded scooters under the Motivate umbrella.
Uber is also familiar with the operations and executive teams of both Bird and Lime, according to Weinberg. "They certainly know both of these companies really well." In fact, Bird is even run by a former Uber and Lyft executive, Travis VanderZanden.
Uber's desire to acquire a scooter start-up may also point to a reality of business for the ridehailing company: its U.S. growth has begun to slow, and the scooter space is growing rapidly.
One thing all these transportation companies have in common: they are burning through cash as they build out infrastructure and operations. If Bird or Lime is open to an acquisition, it would raise questions about whether they have hit speed bumps in their financing efforts, Weinberg said. For now, Bird's CEO has said the company is not for sale.
For the consumer, the endgame seems increasingly likely to be a "bundled services" model, Weinberg said, where Uber and Lyft have "multi-modal" apps, in which users can book a car, a bike, or a scooter, all from the same interface ー and maybe even get rewarded for using certain options. Customers getting a credit on a Lyft ride for regularly using a Citibike doesn't seem hard to imagine as the mobility wars evolve.
"Whatever Uber has, Lyft will try to match," said Weinberg. "Which will all be good for consumers."
For full interview click here.