Amid all of the legal flotsam swirling around Uber and the Arizona governor for keeping the self-driving test program a secret in the state, Uber’s also been struggling in international markets. The company recently sold its major Southeast operations and is dealing with regulatory woes in Greece, London, and Canada — while rival Lyft is easily expanding into the latter market. And now, surprisingly, Uber is moving in a different direction with its first acquisition of a bike-share company.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (who took over after the exit of the beleaguered Travis Kalanick) confirmed that the transportation company is purchasing Jump, a San Francisco start up, for an undisclosed amount (TechCrunch believes the amount could approach $200 million). Currently, Jump’s bikes are dockless and reserved/unlocked/paid for through an app, and according to Khosrowshahi, this acquisition is consistent with Uber objectives:
“Our ultimate goal is … making it easier to live without owning a personal car. We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app — so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more.”
As Reuters notes, this acquisition could potentially put Uber back on the map in international markets where it has struggled. By moving away from a strictly ride-sharing model, Uber may even eventually capture part of the Chinese market away from prospective competitor Didi Chuxing. Currently, bike-share companies aren’t subject to nearly as many regulations, so this could be a smart tactic for Uber — that is, if they aren’t tempted to develop self-driving bikes, which would be an unwise move, to say the least.