With Lime teaming up Uber, can rival Hen afford to go it alone? – TechCrunch

Yesterday, we realized that 18-month-old, Bay Space-based electrical scooter rental firm Lime is becoming a member of forces with the ride-hailing large Uber, which is each investing within the firm as a part of a $335 million spherical and planning promote Lime in its cellular app. In line with Bloomberg, Uber additionally plans to plaster its brand on Lime’s scooters.

Lime isn’t being acquired outright, briefly, nevertheless it appears like will probably be. A minimum of, Uber struck a related association with the electrical bike firm JUMP bikes earlier than spending $200 million to accumulate the corporate in spring.

There are as many questions raised by this sort of tie-up as answered, however the greatest could also be what the pact means for Lime’s fiercest rival within the e-scooter wars, 15-month-old L.A.-based Hen, who a number of sources inform us additionally mentioned a possible partnership with Uber.

Regardless of not too long ago elevating $300 million in contemporary capital at a considerably gorgeous $2 billion valuation, might its goose be, ahem, cooked?

At first look, it might seem so. Uber’s journey app is essentially the most downloaded within the U.S. by a large margin, regardless of beneficial properties made final 12 months by its closest U.S. competitor, Lyft, as Uber battled one scandal after one other. It’s simple to think about that Lime’s integration with Uber will give it the type of quick model attain that the majority founders can solely dream about.

A associated problem for Hen is its relationship with Lyft, which . . . isn’t nice. BIrd’s founder and CEO, Travis VanderZanden, burned that bridge when, not so lengthy after Lyft acqui-hired VanderZanden from a small startup he’d launched and made him its COO, he left to hitch rival Uber.

Lyft sued him for allegedly breaking a confidentiality settlement when he joined Uber, and the 2 sides later settled for undisclosed phrases. However given their historical past, it’s exhausting to picture Lyft — which additionally has a a lot smaller checkbook than Uber — paying prime greenback to accumulate Hen.

The place that leaves the corporate is an open query, however folks conversant in each Hen and Lime counsel the e-scooter conflict is much from over. For instance, although Uber sees its partnership with Lime as “one other step in the direction of our imaginative and prescient of turning into a one-stop store for all of your transportation wants,” two sources conversant in Hen’s pondering are fast to underscore its plans to develop internationally shortly and never merely battle a turf conflict within the U.S. (It already has one workplace in China.) 

That Sequoia Capital led Hen’s most up-to-date spherical of funding helps on this entrance, given Sequoia Capital China’s rising dominance within the nation and the relationships that go along with it. Then once more, Sequoia can be an investor in Uber, having acquired a stake within the firm earlier this 12 months, and alliances are typically temperamental on this courageous new world of transportation. In simply the newest surprising twist, Lime’s latest spherical included not solely Uber but additionally GV, the enterprise arm of Alphabet, which solely not too long ago resolved a lawsuit with Uber.

One other wrinkle to contemplate is the publicity that Lime receives from Uber, which might show double-edged, given the corporate’s ups and downs. Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, seems decided to steer the corporate to a clean, and decidedly undramatic, public providing in one other 12 months or so. However for a corporation of Uber’s scale and scope, that’s a problem, to say the least. (Its latest rent, Scott Colleges —  a former prime lawyer on the U.S. Justice Division and now Uber’s chief compliance officer — will undoubtedly be tasked with minimizing the chances of issues going astray.)

But it’s Lime’s very association with Uber that might doubtlessly create the best alternative for Hen. First, by agreeing to permit Uber to use its branding to its scooters, Lime shall be diluting its personal model. Even when Uber by no means acquires the corporate, riders will affiliate Lime with Uber and suppose, for good or unhealthy, that it’s a subsidiary.

Additional, Uber doesn’t seem to have made any guarantees to Lime when it comes to how prominently its app is featured inside its personal cellular app. which already crams in quite a bit, from providing free experience coupons to that includes native gives to selling its Uber Eats enterprise.

Contemplate that in January 2017, Google added the power to guide an Uber experience to each the Android and iOS variations of its Google Maps service. Uber may need thought {that a} coup, too, on the time. However final summer time, Google quietly eliminated the function from its iOS app, and it eliminated the service from Android simply final month. If there wasn’t a lot outrage over the choice, possible it’s as a result of so few customers of Google Maps seen the function within the first place.

Lime’s association might show extra advantageous. Solely time will inform. However every part thought of, whether or not or not Hen flies away with this competitors will possible owe much less to Lime’s new association with Uber than with its personal potential to execute.

Actually, that’s what BIrd’s flock would argue. Yesterday afternoon, Roelof Botha, a companion at Sequoia and a Hen board member, declined to debate the Lime deal, as a substitute emailing one quick commentary seemingly designed to say all of it: “Travis [VanderZanden] is far more customer obsessed than competitor obsessed. That is a quality we look for in great founders.”

A Hen spokesperson provided an equally sanguine quote, saying that Hen is “happy to see our friends in the ride-sharing industry coalesce on the pressing need to offer a sustainable and affordable alternative to car trips.”

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