Uber JUMPs, slurps San Francisco bike biz

Nobody believes we're not a taxi company, let's go multi-modal and see if that works

Uber apparently isn't burning cash fast enough, so the ride-share company has bought dockless bike-share outfit JUMP Bikes, with CEO Ryan Rzepecki coming along for the ride.

In February, everybody's favourite it's-not-a-taxi provider tied up with San Francisco's JUMP so users of its apps could rent battery-powered bikes without the need for a separate sign-on.

Rather than merely trialling a service with JUMP, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi yesterday announced the acquisition.

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Khosrowshahi's rationale is that Uber's “ultimate goal” of “making it easier to live without owning a personal car” means it has to host multiple modes of transport.

JUMP's electric-assist bikes are better suited to the occasional cyclist dealing with San Francisco's famous undulations than the pedal-power-only bikes that have swarmed across China to the extent that group buying concern Meituan Dianping last week splashed US$2.7 billion to acquire bike-sharing firm Mobike. Dockless bikes have appeared in many other cities and, as riders can leave them anywhere, challenge the likes of London's Santander Cycles or New York's Citi Bikes which must be returned to designated docks.

As JUMP's bikes employ batteries, they'll be more expensive to acquire and operate than other bike share vehicles. Uber's financiers therefore look to have more cheques to write.

With its own user base and JUMP's cycles, it's possible that Uber could avoid the bubble-burst that's bitten outfits like Chinese operator Bluegogo, which collapsed in November 2017. It's widely thought the company's collapse was in part attributable to ill-considered criticism of China's ruling party, surely something not even Uber at its brashest would attempt? ®

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