- Uber has reportedly held recent acquisition talks with both Bird and Lime, the two leading scooter-sharing services in the U.S., according to The Information.
- Several sources briefed the publication on a potential "multibillion-dollar deal," and while there is no clear indication of which company Uber would move forward with — or if a deal will happen at all — The Information suggests there may be some M&A activity before the end of 2018.
- Neither Bird nor Lime responded to Smart Cities Dive's request for comment in time for publication.
It's no secret Uber has spent much of 2018 working to diversify its transportation offerings. In April, the ride-hailing giant purchased electric bike company Jump, helping that brand broaden its footprint and eventually expand into the scooter-sharing business. Uber also invested an undisclosed amount of money in Lime in July to become a "strategic partner" in its scooter operations, helping to boost its exposure in the scooter industry.
These moves were part of Uber's calculated growth in the shared mobility industry, particularly in maintaining Uber's reputation as a widely-used mobility app while moving users away from car dependency. In August, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview with the Financial Times that moving beyond ride-sharing is "very valuable," noting, "[I]n this business things change so fast that everything's got to be on the table."
If Uber were to move forward with a potential acquisition of Bird or Lime, it would potentially edge the company ahead of Lyft, which has also made significant moves to capitalize on the popularity of bike- and scooter-sharing services this year. Lyft purchased bike-share company Motivate in July and launched its own branded scooters soon after, which has allowed Lyft to build its personal brand as a comprehensive mobility company.
If Uber acquires Bird or Lime, it is unclear if the purchased company would maintain branding. However, Uber may need to consider making its name one that is synonymous with bike- and scooter-sharing services if its goal is to dominate the industry.
This trend of ride-hailing giants adjusting operations to capitalize on the popularity of bike- and scooter-sharing is also influencing smaller companies to adjust their own operations. Via is currently in talks to expand into the scooter-sharing realm, suggesting it may add scooters services to its current markets such as Chicago and Washington, DC.