Lime got a leg-up in the scooter wars this week with the announcement of a partnership with Uber that will eventually allow users to rent electric scooters through the Uber app. The partnership gives the electric transportation company access to Uber’s massive clientele – which is likely tens of millions of people.
“Uber will work with us as a strategic partner in the electric scooter space to offer people a greater variety of transportation modes at their fingertips and make it increasingly easy to live without a car,” a Lime spokesperson said in a blog post Monday.
Lime launched in Santa Monica in June, taking on locally-based Bird as their top competitor. On Monday, the company also announced its fleet in more than seventy cities had surpassed 6 million rides. GV (formerly Google Ventures) led Lime’s latest round of fundraising, which totaled $335 million.
“Lime is proud to provide Angelenos with cleaner, more convenient alternatives to cars,” said Lime’s Los Angeles General Manager Thomas Lord. “This exciting new funding round will allow us to fundamentally bring a new flavor to smart mobility.”
The announcement is the latest in a fundraising-arms race for dominance in the dockless scooter market, where companies argue the ubiquitous nature of their scooters is pivotal to their success. In June, Bird announced its Series C funding round with $300 million, led by Sequoia Capital.
“Before Bird, no one had an affordable solution to the last-mile problem that reduced traffic and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Roelof Botha, Partner at Sequoia and Bird board member. “The enthusiasm with which riders across the country have embraced Bird demonstrates that millions of people are hungry for an easier way to travel short distances.”
A Bird spokesperson would not comment on the company’s valuation, but sources close to the matter place it at $2 billion.
USC’s Associate Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship Thomas Knapp said the amount of money raised by the scooter companies is astounding.
“This is titan against titan in a fairly new industry,” Knapp told the Daily Press, saying the partnership gives Uber access to commuters traveling the last mile home. In return, he says access to Uber customers gives Lime a significant short-term advantage, but the war is far from over. “You don’t want to count either side out. Considering what Bird has done in such a short amount of time, I’m anxious to see what their next move is going to be.”
The Lime partnership is not Uber’s first foray into environmentally-friendly commuting. In April,
Uber acquired JUMP bikes, the technology that powers the City of Santa Monica’s Breeze system.
“There haven’t been any changes to operations or anything like that but that platform is now owned by Uber,” City public information officer Constance Farrell said.
Users can still access the Breeze system by downloading the Social Bicycles app before jumping on a Hulu-branded bike. The Breeze system is now connected with UCLA, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Other rideshare companies are in the process of applying for a 16-month pilot program in the city that will include a dynamic cap on the number of dockless electric vehicles here. Vendors will be required to meet utilization targets to ensure efficient use of both bikes and scooters.