Now Uber Wants in on the Scooter Game, Too

Rideshare goliath Uber has applied for a San Francisco electric scooter permit, as have Lyft and 10 more companies.

Two love-’em-or-hate-’em tech institutions are coming together, or at least applying for a permit to do so. Ethically unreliable rideshare corporation Uber is one of the 12 companies that has applied to be included in San Francisco’s contentious e-scooter pilot program scheduled to begin in late June, according to the Examiner, in a move that will have scooter fans jumping for joy, and make anti-”techsploitation” activists hopping mad.

The deadline to apply for a scooter permit was 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The bikeshare company JUMP Bikes, which was acquired by Uber in April, was among the last-minute applicants. The three companies that originally dropped unpermitted scooters across the city, Lime, Bird, and Spin, were also among the 12 applicants. Lyft applied for an application in late May, as did companies named Hopr, ofo, Razor, Ridecell, Scoot, Skip, and USScooter.

Only five of those companies will be awarded the permits, scheduled to go into effect in late June for a one-year pilot program allowing 1,250 scooters.

Even scooter startup critics are pleased with the modest and deliberate rollout of the pilot program structure. “The city’s process limits the number of companies. We’re not going to see a boom, we’re going to see a regulated, measured program,” Walk SF Policy and Program Manager Cathy DeLuca tells the Examiner. “I do get the sense there’s a thirst for a limit.”

Interestingly, JUMP Bikes sent an email to users right on Thursday afternoon before the application deadline, reminding users they had been acquired by Uber — even though that acquisition happened two months ago.

“Today, we’re officially announcing a massive step forward to realizing that vision – we’re joining Uber Technologies, Inc.,” JUMP Bikes said in the Thursday email. “With Uber’s support, we will deliver the best biking experience possible to cities all around the world, and help improve infrastructure to better support your city’s initiatives.”

If you’re a scooter user, keep in mind that these companies revenue models may be more based on mining your personal data than on one-dollar scooter rides. Heather Knight’s Chronicle analysis of scooter companies’ privacy policies is something you might want to read before signing up for a scooter app.


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