Will Uber gobble up Lime or fly off with Bird?

Winter is coming. It’s time for scooter startups to find a cozy, protective blanket to get them through the chill months.

For Lime and Bird, that could be Uber. The pair of venture capital favorites, which both control fleets of electric scooters around the world, are said to be in talks with the SoftBank-backed ride-hailing behemoth about a possible acquisition, as first reported by The Information.

The news follows Lyft’s acquisition of bike-rental service Motivate, Ford’s acquisition of dockless motorcycle and e-scooter startup Spin and Uber’s acquisition of JUMP Bikes. The trio of transactions are likely the first of many deals, as M& A activity in the scooter sector will unavoidably heat up in the coming months.

Uber, which has scooters available to rent within its mobile app in Los Angeles and Austin politenes of JUMP, is looking to one of the two startups to beef up its scooter render, though both companies are denying reports of an impending bargain. Bird’s chief executive officer Travis VanderZanden told TechCrunch simply that” Bird is not for sale .” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lime told us they are” concentrate on constructing an independent company ,” or, in other words,” Lime is not are of interest to Uber’s courtship .”

Uber declined to comment.

Scooter startups don’t come cheap

An acquisition of either Lime or Bird would be quite expensive. Both corporations are worth more than$ 1 billion and would certainly hike up their valuations amid M& A talks, specially considering has pointed out that both are currently fundraising at even higher valuations. Bird, for its part, was estimated at $ 2 billion this summer and Lime boasts at least a $1.1 billion price tag. Uber already comprises minority communities bet in Lime, though, which would devalue that bargain a bit.

An Uber acquisition would surely fulfilled their investors, but I’d gambling neither Lime nor Bird’s founders are ready to relinquish their liberty. Both startups have been working tirelessly to build sustainable the enterprises and expand beyond motorcycles and scooters. Bird recently launched Bird Platform, an interesting brand-new service that allows entrepreneurs to buy Bird’s scooters at-cost and rent them out themselves as a side business.

For a small fee, entrepreneurs can now control their own fleet of Bird e-scooters

Lime, a couple of weeks prior, liberated its first fleet of “LimePods,” shareable vehicles that are now available to rent via the Lime app in Seattle, and it’s working on the launch of a line of brick and mortar storefronts in major U.S. and international metropolis. On pinnacle of that, both companies have been racing to tackle brand-new sells around the globe, from Sydney to London,in 2018.

Lime is debuting its cable of shareable vehicles in Seattle this week

Together, the two companies have raised practically$ 1 billion in venture capital fund in about a year’s time. As the two conducting brands, they are quickly turning e-scootering into an acceptable mode of last-mile transportation in the U.S. Their recent behavior indicates the companies are eyeing a future where they are a go-to multimodal transportation platform, like Uber, rather than the subsidiary of one.

Investors, however, have a different perspective. Sources tell TechCrunch some of Lime and Bird’s backers are spurring the companies to continue discussions with Uber. Despite being exceedingly young companies — some of the youngest to rack up valuations that high ever, actually — Lime and Bird are expensive, which earnestly restriction their exit alternatives. Lime is in favour of GV, IVP, Coatue Management, GGV Capital and others. Bird is backed by investors including Accel, CRV, Greycroft, Sound Ventures and Upfront Ventures.

What does Uber want?

When Uber shelled out $200 million to acquire JUMP Bikes earlier this year and made dockless bikes and scooters rentable in select cities, it became clear the ride-hailing giant was doubling down on micro-mobility.

“We assure the Uber app as moving from merely being about automobile sharing and car-hailing to truly helping the consumer get from A to B in “the worlds largest” affordable, most dependable, most convenient path, ” Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi told TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey at the time of the bargain. “We think e-bikes are just a spectacularly great product.”

He was indicated that he’d been staring at e-scooters” quizzically on the street” and thought they were in an” odd place” due to regulatory issues. Well, the latter is still true in many cities, but scooters are really become more widely accepted as they’ve infested vicinities in Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Austin, Paris and beyond.

Now that Uber is serious about scooters, it needs to increase its render. Lime, afforded Uber’s subsisting stake in the company and its lower valuation, is a natural target.

With Lime teaming up with Uber, can rival Bird afford to go it alone ?

Of course, there are a lot, many, many other tiny e-scooter operators Uber could target, like Skip, Scoot and Grin, to name a few. Spin, one of the early entrants to the e-scooter sell, nonetheless, is no longer policy options. The startup had raised about$ 8 million in undertaking fund and sold to Ford for around $100 million in a deal demonstrated just a few weeks ago.

Uber is expected to go public in early 2019. The corporation released its third-quarter financial results last month, reporting an increase in revenue of five percentage quarter-over-quarter at $2.95 billion — up 38 percentage year-over-year. Gross bookings were up six percentage QoQ and 34 percent YoY at $12.7 billion. Net damages, however, were up 32 percent QoQ to $939 million on a pro forma basis.

The company says it’s investing heavily in Uber Eats, its bikes and scooters, and Uber Freight as it expects each of those efforts to become even larger contributors to its overall business.

Uber is very likely make a move on Lime in Q1 2019, before the company opens yet another fundraising round and costs itself higher than even Uber would be willing to pay.

Uber continues to lose fund as it scales scooters, motorcycles and other newer businesses

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