Uber is officially entering the dockless bike-sharing space. The ride-hail company has acquired electric bike-share startup Jump Bikes for an undisclosed amount.
Owning and operating its own bike-share service may help Uber mitigate the threat that e-bike and e-scooter services pose to the ride-hail company’s business, specifically for trips under three or so miles.
Bike services are a more affordable means to complete first- and last-mile trips to Uber’s suite of services. The deal will give Uber users access to Jump services.
Jump, founded by Ryan Rzepecki, had raised $11.6 million from investors including Menlo Ventures.
Othet ride-share companies around the world already have bike share services. In India, there’s Ola, which offers bike share, and Didi and Grab have launched their own bike-share services.
Jump and Uber first began working together in February when Uber began offering some users the option to order a Jump bike in San Francisco.
Jump is the sole dockless bike-share operator currently available in San Francisco. The city has an exclusive contract with Ford’s GoBike for docked bike share. Jump doesn’t require a dock, which means it can be parked almost anywhere. As part of the pilot program, Jump is currently only allowed to operate 250 bikes in the city. Per its permit, the company should be able to double the number of bikes in the city by September.
In January, the company was the only dockless bike service to receive a permit to operate in San Francisco. In February, the first full month of operation, Jump says the company saw around four trips for each of its 250 bikes a day at an average distance of 2.6 miles per trip.
Jump, previously called Social Bikes, only recently began operating its own fleet of dockless bikes. Prior to that it sold dockless bikes to a variety of clients like small fleet operators in more than 40 markets.
Uber expects to eventually expand the bike-share service outside of San Francisco and has already opened up a waitlist for users looking to be notified when a Jump bike will be available via the app in their city. As of February, Jump said it planned to launch its service in Sacramento by May.
Integrating bike sharing into Uber’s platform will enable users to bike to a place where it’s more convenient or cheaper for a driver to pick them up. That’s also true for getting to a destination a car can’t take you conveniently or affordably. Users can plan their ride-share trips around where there are available bikes given the bikes are GPS-enabled.
For Jump, the backing of Uber is a much-needed boost for a company operating in an intensely competitive and well-funded space that is seeing significant momentum in the U.S. Competitors have secured major rounds of funding in the last few weeks. Ofo closed an $866 million funding round last month; it has now raised a total of $2.2 billion. Bird closed a $100 million round weeks after the company closed its initial $15 million series A round.
“At our core, we are still the same team that is passionate about partnering with cities to increase cycling, but joining Uber presents us with the opportunity to realize our dreams faster and at a much larger scale,” Rzepecki said in a statement. “Jump will continue to operate in a way that remains true to our roots and we will remain good partners to cities while delivering excellent service to our riders.”
Many expect more consolidation in the space as investors place their bets on the winning players. Already, China-based competitor Mobike was acquired by Meituan Dianping, an on-demand delivery startup, for $2.7 billion earlier this month.