Is Lime the next Uber?
Alphabet (GOOGL) GV and Uber are among the investors pouring $335 million into Lime, a hot e-scooter startup that raised $70 million just five months ago.
It's the latest nine-figure round in the current feeding frenzy around two-wheeled mobility apps, with tech firms and venture capitalists placing big bets on dockless scooters and bikes as they expand quickly across U.S. cities. GV (formerly Google Ventures) partner Joe Kraus will take a seat on the startup's board.
Lime's CEO, Toby Sun, described Uber as a 'minority' participant in the round -- but the investment is accompanied by a partnership between the two companies. Sun said that soon, you'll be able to book a scooter through Uber's app in addition to other 'co-branding' opportunities in the evolving transportation sector.
"We'll be working with Uber and potentially with Google to offer complementary services. We do see mobility as something bigger than what we can serve nowadays," Sun told TheStreet.
Sun said that Lime had held conversations with numerous other transportation platforms, but that "Uber made the most sense," he said. "They were the best possible partner in terms of the vision, the passion about mobility in general in that they want to build a modern platform, and the global footprint is another thing."
Uber's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has expressed a desire to become the "Amazon of transportation," as he told CNBC in a May 2018 interview. The ride-hailing giant also purchased Jump, a bike-sharing company, in April.
"Whether it's taking a car, whether it's taking a pooled car, whether it's taking a bike, whether you should walk or even now we want to build out the capability for you to take a bus or subway," Khosrowshahi said in the interview. "We want to be the A-to-B platform for transportation."
Lime is available now in some 70 cities across the U.S. and Europe. Piggybacking on Uber's global platform will allow Lime to expand quickly into 100 markets by the end of the year, Sun said.
In total, Lime has attracted about $467 million in funding since it was launched only 13 months ago. Sun added that Lime is profitable in some well-established markets, but that it's "still growing very fast, so everything now is about how to invest in the supply and operation and product," he said. "Profitability is not the focus at this moment -- but we'll keep growing, and in the meantime we're confident the company can be profitable if we want."