It’s a space the tech world has been following for a few months now: scooters. In late August, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stated that the company will bet on last-mile transit in the long term. Now the company is putting its money where its mouth is.
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Uber has officially launched its JUMP scooters on the streets of Santa Monica, California. These scooters are actually Xiaomi Ninebot scooters, according to TechCrunch, but the company is launching them under the increasingly popular JUMP brand. Uber acquired the electric bike company JUMP in April for close to $200 million.
One notable difference about this launch is that the company actually has regulatory approval from the city of Santa Monica. That comes in stark contrast to the experience of Bird, Lime, and Spin, which unleashed their scooters on the streets of San Francisco last summer, were delivered a cease and desist by the city government, and then were left out of the city’s partnership with scooter programs.
Of course, regulation also often means various limitations. According to TechCrunch’s coverage, “Uber can have up to 500 bikes and 250 scooters on the streets at any one time.” Uber has also introduced an age limit and parking rules for its users. In any case, that’s better than being left out of the scooter mix altogether, which is a crowded space. But Uber is betting that its JUMP brand, and the incorporation of the platform on Uber’s app (one which logged 4 billion rides in 2017), will make it the popular choice. And if that doesn’t prove to be true, Uber has used its treasure chest of cash to hedge its scooter bet.
The world’s most valuable unicorn has invested upwards of $300 million into Lime, a leading competitor in the scooter race. Uber said Lime’s scooters will be available through the Uber app. However, despite cash advantages and strategic investments, it’s too early to discount Bird and Lyft’s well-funded efforts.