Uber, the premier name in ride-hailing apps, wants to be known as the go-to destination for all on-demand transportation needs, and so its latest efforts have naturally gravitated toward growing its share of the booming electric scooter rental business. The company seems to have decided that its best path for acquiring a leadership position in this market is to literally acquire the leaders. The Information reports that Uber has held talks with Bird on a possible “multibillion-dollar” acquisition and, as a fallback, Uber has also been talking to smaller competitor Lime as well.
Uber already owns a minority stake in Lime. The partnership agreed between the two companies this summer brought electric scooters to Uber’s app for the first time.
There’s strong impetus for getting a deal done from both sides, as Uber seeks to lock up the market before it’s fully formed and the budding unicorn startups work to secure the funding to match their hyper-accelerated growth. The Information suggests that Uber is looking to secure a deal with either Bird or Lime before the end of the year, which suggests negotiations are already at an advanced stage.
Without denying The Information’s information about ongoing talks, Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden has told the reporters that “Bird is not for sale,” which may or may not be a negotiating tactic. Of course, there’s always the chance that no agreement is reached between any of the three parties, but it does seem like we’re going to be heading into 2019 with Uber in a commanding position near the top of the nascent scooter-sharing market.