Uber rolls into electric scooter market with investment in Lime

Just a few months after acquiring electric bicycle company Jump Bikes, Uber has made yet another strategic investment in a two-wheeled startup.  The San Francisco-based tech giant announced a new investment in Lime, the electric scooter company, as part of a $335 million financing round. Details on the partnership have yet to be fully revealed, but Uber says it will be promoting Lime within its mobile application, and will also be putting the Uber logo on some of Lime’s scooters.

This could be the first step in a Lime acquisition. After all, Uber also invested in Jump Bikes before making an outright acquisition. Since then, Uber has begun rolling out e-bikes in cities around the globe and could make similar moves with electric scooters. One of Lime’s biggest competitors is a company called Bird Rides, whose founder is actually a former Uber executive. Based in Los Angeles, Bird has already faced some controversy of its own, as some cities weren’t entirely sure that they had allowed the electric scooters on their sidewalks before Bird began to take off.

Lime, on the other hand, has had a more seamless introduction to markets the world over. Already, its bright green scooters, which can be easily rented and left around cities for the next person to pick up, are available in more than 70 markets in both the United States and Europe. And with this latest cash injection, the company will be buying “tens of thousands of lightweight electric scooters” to add to its existing fleet, Bloomberg reports.

Uber has maintained an interest in electric scooters for quite some time now, as the company has already filed an application to debut its own scooter service. This could help the company protect itself against the potential competition presented by companies like Lime or Bird by expanding its own transportation portfolio.

“As a company, we’ve leaned into self-cannibalization throughout our history,” said Rachel Holt, the former head of Uber’s North America ridesharing business, in an interview with  Bloomberg. “We are going to continue to double down on the Jump acquisition that we’ve made, and we’ve got a very expansive rollout strategy there that we’re excited about,” she added.

When asked why Uber decided to invest in Lime rather than another scooter startup, Holt said: “We feel like [Lime’s] footprint is obviously quite expansive at this point, and we’re really excited to see where it can go.”