Deal of the Year: Lyft's acquisition of Motivate
Docked bike-share programs in nine US cities
Since this acquisition, Lyft has rolled out scooters of its own in several cities, and will add branded bikes soon.
As ride-sharing companies looked to expand their business beyond cars in 2018, the most significant deal of all was Lyft’s acquisition of bike-share company Motivate in July.
Motivate operates docked bike-share in eight cities, including New York City, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington, DC. The deal came hot on the heels of rival and market leader Uber buying dockless bike-share company Jump and helped leveling the playing field between the companies. The Motivate deal — reported to be worth $200 million — has helped Lyft make a name in the bike-share business as it works to expand beyond just car services.
"Lyft and Motivate have both been committed for years to the same goal of reducing the need for personal car ownership by providing reliable and affordable ways to move around our cities," John Zimmer, Lyft co-founder and president, said in a statement when the deal was announced. "Bringing together Lyft and Motivate will accelerate our collaboration with cities and deliver even better experiences to our passengers and riders."
And while the deal is only a few months old, Lyft has already made progress in the bike and scooter industry as it pushes out new projects. Since September, Lyft has launched its own electric scooter services in Denver, Santa Monica, CA and Washington, DC. The scooters cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to ride, with the company also offering discounts for rides that begin or end near public transit stops.
"With scooters, and soon bikes, we’re providing more flexible options for our riders and are working closely with cities, starting with Denver," Lyft wrote in a blog post to coincide with the Denver launch.
Bay Area, CA
New York, NY
Citi Bike JC
Jersey City, NJ
Twin Cities, MN
In Santa Monica, CA, Lyft is one of four companies involved in the city’s Shared Mobility Pilot Program, with each company allowed 750 vehicles each and promising to collaborate with the city to enhance parking, safety, operations and education. Also in Santa Monica, Lyft will partner with Trafi, a transit information platform, to add public transit information to its app.
“More people biking, scooting and walking is better for the city,” David Fairbank, Lyft’s market manager for bikes and scooters in Greater Los Angeles, said during a press conference. “With our bikes and scooters effort, we are reducing the number of cars on the road, increasing public transportation trips and providing equitable transportation options.”
It is part of a wider strategy for Lyft, which says it is determined to reduce traffic congestion, car ownership and carbon emissions, while at the same time making bikes and scooters affordable for all. In July, Zimmer and co-founder Logan Green outlined that broad strategy, and also a desire to make it easy for bike and scooter users to connect to transit.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the private and public sectors to work together to make our cities designed for people not cars,” the pair wrote on Medium. “We see the introduction of bikes and scooters to our cities’ shared transit ecosystems as one more step in Lyft’s civic responsibility.”
That public and private cooperation is evident already in New York City, where Lyft is investing $100 million to expand the Citi Bike program, which is one of Motivate's assets. Separately, the company has also released photos of bikes it plans to roll out that can be rented through its mobile app.
Those in the bike-share industry said that while it may be too early to tell the long-term impact of Lyft buying Motivate, these are exciting times for multimodal transit.
“NABSA is enthusiastic about what this says about the industry: It's healthy, it's growing, and we've got a lot of private sector investment, which two years ago I'm not sure we ever could have predicted or imagined the extent of,” North American Bike Share Association executive director Samantha Herr told Smart Cities Dive earlier this year. “In terms of effects, we see it as positive. This will allow bike-share to become more tightly-woven into the shared mobility landscape.”
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