The San Francisco bikeshare craze might kick into an even higher gear, as the world’s former most valuable startup and constant source of controversy Uber just acquired the bikeshare company JUMP Bikes, whose bright-red electric bicycles arrived in San Francisco this past January. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but TechCrunch reported that it could be “closer to $200 million.”
If you’re confused by all the bikes, scooters, and corporate contraptions showing up on San Francisco sidewalks, JUMP Bikes are the candy-red electric bicycles that can be locked to any bike rack in town (well, within their ‘service area’ that only covers about one-third of the city.) These are different from the blue Ford GoBikes that were rather hilariously vandalized upon their local launch, and the Lime-S electric scooters that people are tossing into bodies of water.
Bikeshare investments are the new hot thing in tech, and for Uber, the value here may lie in having vehicles that do not have the ‘Uber’ name on them. The company’s reputation is still reeling from ex-CEO Travis Kalanick’s endless scandals, a self-driving car fatality last month, the pesky #DeleteUber movement, a giant legal settlement for stealing self-driving car technology, and of course the Susan Fowler harassment essay that won Uber an unflattering place in the #MeToo movement.
JUMP Bikes seems to acknowledge this in their own announcement. “When we first began talking to Uber they were going through an extremely difficult time, with negative headlines each week and a massive change in leadership,” writes JUMP Bikes founder and CEO Ryan Rzepecki in the obligatory Medium post. “We expected to find a toxic work environment and a broken culture. Instead, everyone we met was smart, passionate, and genuinely wanted to help our team succeed.”
It’s amazing how $200 million can change your impression of people.
JUMP Bikes initially partnered with Uber in late January to let you order a JUMP Bike within the Uber app. SFMTA allowed JUMP Bikes to be the first permitted dockless bikeshare system in San Francisco, and will reevaluate the program in October.