Apparently Silicon Valley loves scooters. E-scooters, to be precise.
Reports yesterday claimed that the electric scooter company Bird is raising more capital. It is looking at $US200 million in new venture funding at a $US2 billion valuation, only two weeks after reporting on its $US150 million round at $US1 billion.
That’s not all. It’s getting confused as to who’s investing, who’s raising money, and who’s getting in trouble.
Here’s what I can tell (which may be out of date within days):
Bird is now raising an extra $200 million in funding at a reported $2 billion valuation. Accel will be the lead venture capital investor.
Bird plans global expansion with the money (sounds a bit James-Bond-ish), and The Information reports that it’s now setting up an office in China. They are popular – people are even going to the extent of tying the scooters up to street furniture as a way of reserving them.
Lime, a close rival of Bird, already raised a total of $132 million, but it’s supposedly in the middle of raising up to $500 million in new funding. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, GGV Capital, and Fifth Wall Ventures.
That’s not all. Much-smaller Skip is supposedly raising $25 million at a $100 million valuation. Their investors are Menlo Ventures, Accel, and Y Combinator.
It’s not just scooters. Car-share firms are buying into (share) bikes. Uber recently took over dockless electric-bike firm Jump Bikes (previously known as Social Bicycles) for an amount of $200 million. Previous investors (around $11 million) included Menlo Ventures, SOSV, and SineWave Ventures.
Uber competitor Lyft is trying to buy bike-share company Motivate for more than $250 million, but now Uber is trying to crash the party and buy Motivate instead.
Notice how incestuous Silicon Valley is?
Everyone’s starting to invest in everything! Accel is investing in both Bird and Skip, and Menlo is backing both Jump and Skip. They are maybe a bit scared of Softbank, which has way more venture money than anyone else and a habit of simply investing in ALL the firms in a favoured ecosystem.
There’s other big money around in transportation. Toyota has apparently just agreed to invest $1 billion in Southeast Asia ride-hailing company Grab (which basically defeated Uber in South East Asia; Uber retreating from those markets in March in return for a 27% shareholding).
The Toyota investment values Grab at more than $10 billion.
Like the electric-scooter wars, the ride-hailing wars are just as tortuous and confused. General Motors had previously backed Lyft, while Toyota is a long-term investor in Uber (and, soon, Grab, as well as Uber being a Grab shareholder).
Recently, the Japanese tech giant SoftBank decided to invest $2.25 billion in GM’s highly-regarded Cruise autonomous-driving car division. SoftBank is also an investor in both Uber and Grab. Are you still with me?
There might be a test at the end…
In other words, traditional car-makers are increasingly betting on the business models that threaten to disrupt the old Henry Ford business model of vehicle sales and ownership. Maybe they’ll get as far as scooters soon.