Tech

Lyft and Uber both want in on e-scooter craze

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Bird and Lime were just two of a dozen applications for a scooter-share permit in San Francisco.
Bird and Lime were just two of a dozen applications for a scooter-share permit in San Francisco.

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The San Francisco motorized scooter craze just got more heated, with 12 companies vying for a spot in the city’s permit program. 

Included in the dozen applications for the 12-month pilot program to run a scooter-share service are ride-hailing apps Lyft and Uber. Uber applied as Jump, the electrical-assist bike-share company it acquired earlier this year. A Jump exec mentioned a new generation of its red e-bicycle coming out soon, but wouldn’t comment on a possible scooter from the company.

For both Lyft and Uber it’s unclear if the applications mean they’ll be building out their own fleet of e-scooters that unlock via a credit card-linked mobile app, or partnering or acquiring an established scooter-share company. Both Lyft and Uber are based on a fleet-less model — drivers supply their own vehicles.

Lyft was reportedly in talks to acquire bike-share company Motivate, the company behind Citi Bikes in New York and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. Then there were murmurs of Uber going after Motivate. Motivate is not on the list of San Francisco scooter applicants.

Other more expected applications came in from Spin, Lime, and Bird, which were already operating in San Francisco until the city shut down operations last week. Now those companies are vying to be one of the five selected by the end of the month, when scooter rides are expected to resume. 

Ofo, the company known for its yellow bicycles, debuted its proprietary e-scooter in a blog post late last week and is looking to make its entrance into the San Francisco market. 

A throwback on the application list is Razor, the company that built manual scooters that were all the rage in the ’90s and early Aughts. For 2018, Razor is trying to make a motorized comeback.

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