- New York-based micromobility company Helbiz announced Thursday it will acquire competitor Skip, with a view to further expand its operations in the U.S. and worldwide. A spokesperson did not disclose the deal's amount, but said in an email that the transaction is "a combination of stock and cash," and the deal will close by year's end.
- Skip will continue to operate under its own brand as a subsidiary of Helbiz, the companies said. After the acquisition is finalized, Helbiz said it intends to expand Skip's brand, technology, operations team and shared scooter fleet as part of its own global expansion strategy. HelBiz also said it will integrate Skip's existing employees, although the spokesperson did not provide information on how many employees would be impacted.
- Helbiz also pledged to use the acquisition to continue Skip’s work on developing technology for safety and sustainability, and partner with cities to "promote transportation equity." Helbiz has dockless scooters in Alexandria, VA; Arlington, VA; Atlanta; Jacksonville, FL; Miami; Richmond, VA; Washington, DC; and more than 30 cities around the world. Skip is currently only available in Washington, DC.
Skip's efforts in Washington, DC — now its only market after it operated in San Francisco and a few other cities before pulling out — are notable as it is the city's largest fleet at 2,500 dockless scooters. It was among the first to receive a permit in Washington, DC under its prior name, Waybots. But the company made headlines last year when it pulled scooters from the two cities after one caught fire, and returned to city streets months later with new safety features.
The company noted its new S3 scooter has "a perfect safety record" since its launch in August 2019 and has reduced environmental waste. Helbiz, meanwhile, operates largely in Europe but has recently gained a foothold in the United States. In a statement, Stefano Ciravegna, head of strategy and M&A at Helbiz, said the acquisition presents "a big opportunity to expand our presence in the US market."
This acquisition marks the latest in a small but consistent trend of scooter companies acquiring one another as the marketplace consolidates. Bird acquired Scoot in mid-2019 and European rival Circ in January, while OjO acquired Gotcha in Nov. 2019 in a move they said would help challenge the giants of Lime and Bird. But perhaps the most notable movement came in May when Uber invested in Lime and folded its JUMP e-bike and e-scooter business into Lime's operations.
At the time of Bird's Scoot acquisition, investors predicted the move could have fired the starting gun for similar efforts as micromobility companies search for profitability and look to scale their offerings. There are also moves towards streamlining the user experience through acquisitions and partnerships, with Lime pledging to unveil a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform this winter and partnering with CityMapper to integrate its bikes into the app.
But acquisitions took a back seat this year as the dockless industry suffered heavily amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, although officials are confident of a full recovery and further growth. And Ciravegna indicated Helbiz will look to make more acquisitions. In a statement, he said the company's strategy "is to grow both organically and through consolidation."