Not one electric rental scooter is San Francisco is operating with a permit, but thousands of these app-powered scooters are still found all over the city sidewalks. And we may need to brace ourselves for more, as Axios reports that scooter service Lime is trying to line up a whopping $500 more in venture capital investment.
“Lime, one of the startups filling sidewalks with electric scooters, is raising up to $500 million in new funding, possibly via a combination of equity and debt, Axios has learned from multiple sources,” writes Axios’ Kia Kokalitcheva. “With the recent scooter craze, rival startups like Lime, Bird, and Spin are seeking to build giant war chests.”
That brief snippet is pretty much Axios’ whole article. If you’re unfamiliar with the news site Axios, all of their articles are about two sentences long.
Lime scooters (the green ones) have the most venture capital funding of any of the scooter companies, with about $130 million raised thus far. Bird scooters (the black ones with a white decal) have raised about $115 million, with Spin at just under $10 million.
Lime was the first to arrive in San Francisco, and did so with no permits or licenses in place. All three companies have infuriated the SFMTA and S.F. supervisors by operating unpermitted and with little apparent regard for the law. The San Francisco Department of Public Works has confiscated hundreds of the scooters for blocking sidewalks, often in completely busted-up condition.
The scooters are not currently ‘illegal’ in San Francisco. The SFMTA scooter permit process rolled out May 1 gives the scooter companies a grace period of until June 4 to obtain their permits.
The scooters seem like a hot investment to venture capital firms right now, so expect to hear more big splashy valuations of these companies. And the scooters are a great way to get around. But the companies are getting around rules and regulations, so hopefully these hundreds of millions in investment dollars will be used on trying to follow the law.