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Bikesharing Startup LimeBike Raises $70M More

Continuing its meteoric fundraising arc, LimeBike has raised a $70 million extension to its Series B round, which previously totaled $50 million. That preceding check, which touched down just last October, followed a $12 million Series A in March of the same year.

Fifth Wall took part in the Series B Extension, along with prior investors.

According to Crunchbase, the firm was founded last January, meaning that the quickly-expanding company is just over a year old. Over the same period, it has raised over $130 million.

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It is anything but rare for bikesharing companies to raise oceans of capital in the current technology cycle. Chinese bikesharing companies are the most famous examples of investing largesse, raising billions to fuel their capital-intensive business. However, bikesharing in the United States is expanding as well.

While LimeBike is certainly flush with its recent capital, it isn’t alone in doing so. U.S.-based JUMP Bikes raised $10 million last quarter. And foreign competition is stepping up its play for the domestic market.

Much Capital, Very Spend

Why the hell does LimeBike need $70 million more just months after raising $50 million? Or, more precisely, why has the firm raised around $10 million monthly (aggregate sum pro-rated to its current age in months) when it merely rents bikes?

It actually isn’t too hard to understand where the spend lies. First, LimeBike has capex costs that pure software plays don’t. It has to buy bikes, track them, maintain them, and balance their placement in each market where the company operates.

The firm also has to have a complex operation to handle its marketplace. In essence, akin to Uber, LimeBike needs to ensure that customers can quickly find a bike, a feat that will entail software that I presume is similar in ilk to what rideshaing companies run.

If you can’t find a bike nearby once, you might give a bike sharing company another go. But if you can’t find one twice in a row, you might be done. Supply balance matters.

The firm is also building out new tech, as TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey reports:

The funding comes shortly after LimeBike announced its entrance into the e-scooter and pedal assist, e-bike games.

I have to admit that the concept of pedal assist bikes is welcome, as I mostly live in San Francisco; I am not peddling my own sorry backside up that hill after work. But with some help, the option is more attractive.

Velocity

There is boundless optimism among the investing classes for dockless bikesharing at the moment. That sentence will either read prescient or silly in a few years time. The scale of bets being made on LimeBike, Ofo, Mobike, and others are historically notable, even in the unicorn era.

The velocity of capital deployment into bike sharing companies has been so accelerated when compared to historical norms that perhaps we’ll get through the niche’s adolescence, consolidation, tier-two-player burnouts, and maturity cycles in a compressed fashion as well.

For now, LimeBike has more than doubled its capital base in a single move less than a half year after raising $50 million. That’s a lot to live up to.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias