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

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Yesterday, we discovered that 18-month-old, Bay Space-based electrical scooter rental firm Lime is becoming a member of forces with the ride-hailing big Uber, which is each investing within the firm as a part of a $335 million spherical and planning to promote Lime in its mobile app. According to Bloomberg, Uber additionally plans to plaster its brand on Lime’s scooters.

Lime isn’t being acquired outright, in brief, however it seems like it might be. A minimum of, Uber struck a similar arrangement with the electrical bike firm JUMP bikes earlier than spending $200 million to purchase the corporate in spring.

There are as many questions raised by this sort of tie-up as answered, however the largest could also be what the impression means for Lime’s fiercest rival within the e-scooter wars, 15-month-old L.A.-based Bird, which a number of sources inform us additionally mentioned a possible partnership with Uber.

Regardless of just lately elevating $300 million in recent capital at a considerably beautiful $2 billion valuation, might its goose be, ahem, cooked?

At first look, it would seem so. Uber’s journey app is essentially the most downloaded within the U.S. by a large margin, regardless of positive factors made final 12 months by its closest U.S. competitor, Lyft, as Uber battled one scandal after one other. It’s simple to think about that Lime’s integration with Uber will give it the sort of rapid model attain that almost all founders can solely dream about.

A associated problem for Bird is its relationship with Lyft, which . . . isn’t nice. Bird’s founder and CEO, Travis VanderZanden, burned that bridge when, not so lengthy after Lyft acqui-hired VanderZanden from a small startup he’d launched and made him its COO, he left to be a part of rival Uber.

Lyft, which sued VanderZanden for allegedly breaking a confidentiality settlement when he joined Uber, later settled with him for undisclosed phrases. However given their historical past, it’s exhausting to think about Lyft — which additionally has a a lot smaller checkbook than Uber — paying prime greenback to purchase his firm.

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The place that leaves Bird is an open query, however individuals acquainted with each Bird and Lime recommend the e-scooter conflict is way from over.

For instance, although Uber sees its partnership with Lime as “one other step in the direction of our imaginative and prescient of changing into a one-stop shop for all your transportation needs,” two sources acquainted with Bird’s pondering are fast to underscore its plans to develop internationally rapidly and never merely struggle a turf conflict within the U.S. (It already has one workplace in China.)

That Sequoia Capital led Bird’s most up-to-date spherical of funding helps on this front, given Sequoia Capital China’s growing dominancewithin the nation and the relationships that go with it. Then once more, Sequoia can be an investor in Uber, having acquired a stake within the firm earlier this 12 months. And alliances are typically temperamental on this courageous new world of transportation. In simply the newest sudden twist, Lime’s latest spherical included not solely Uber but additionally GV, the enterprise arm of Alphabet, which solely just lately resolved a lawsuit with Uber.

One other wrinkle to take into account is the publicity that Lime receives from Uber, which might show double-edged, given the corporate’s ups and downs. Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, seems decided to steer the corporate to a easy and decidedly undramatic public providing in one other 12 months or so. However for an organization of Uber’s scale and scope, that’s a problem, to say the least. (Its latest rent, Scott Faculties — a former prime lawyer on the U.S. Justice Division and now Uber’s chief compliance officer — will undoubtedly be tasked with minimizing the chances of issues going astray.)

Lime’s association with Uber might probably create different alternatives for Bird. First, by agreeing to permit Uber to apply its branding to its scooters, Lime might be diluting its personal model. Even when Uber by no means acquires the corporate, riders might effectively affiliate Lime with Uber and suppose, for higher or worse, that it’s a subsidiary.

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Additional, Uber doesn’t seem to have made any guarantees to Lime by way of how prominently its app is featured inside its personal mobile app, which already crams in quite a bit, from providing free journey coupons to that includes native gives to selling its Uber Eats enterprise.

Think about that in January 2017, Google added to each the Android and iOS variations of its Google Maps service the flexibility to guide an Uber journey. Uber may need thought coup, too, on the time. However final summer season, Google quietly eliminated the feature from its iOS app, and it eliminated the service from Android just last month. If there wasn’t a lot outrage over the choice, seemingly it’s as a result of so few customers of Google Maps seen the feature within the first place.

Lime’s association might show extra advantageous than that. Solely time will inform. However all the pieces thought of, whether or not or not Bird flies away with this competitors will seemingly owe much less to Lime’s new association with Uber than with its personal skill to execute. That features making its personal mobile app the sort of go-to vacation spot that Uber’s has change into.

Definitely, that’s what Bird’s flock would argue will occur. Yesterday afternoon, Roelof Botha, a companion at Sequoia and a Bird board member, declined to talk about the Lime deal, as a substitute emailing one brief commentary seemingly designed to say it all: “Travis [VanderZanden] is way extra buyer obsessed than competitor obsessed. That may be a high quality we search for in nice founders.”

A Bird spokesperson provided an equally sanguine quote, saying that Bird is “joyful to see our mates within the ride-sharing trade coalesce on the urgent want to supply a sustainable and reasonably priced different to automobile journeys.”

Source : TechCrunch