By James Ayre
The embattled on-demand taxi service firm Uber has announced that it has acquired the electric bike-sharing service startup JUMP Bikes, marking the company’s further investment into the on-demand mobility services sector.
Why does this matter? It’s notable due to the fact that Uber’s goal of being at the forefront of the robo-taxi sector is looking less and less likely to be achieved, with Waymo/Google and Cruise/GM both looking very looking to be the actual pioneers in the sector, and with Uber’s competitor Lyft being the beneficiary due to its close relationship with both.
The much publicized pedestrian fatality caused by an Uber self-driving test vehicle in Arizonarecently (possibly as the result of company negligence) adds a negative-PR dimension to its technological problems, making it seem unlikely that the firm will manage to field its own commercial self-driving taxis anytime soon.
With all of that in mind, diversification (as represented by this minor acquisition) makes some sense. Perhaps expect to see more of the same from the company over the coming months and years.
Reuters provides more: “Uber said in a statement it had entered an agreement to buy JUMP, but an Uber spokeswoman declined to disclose the terms of the deal. JUMP is a dockless electric bike service that has rolled out in San Francisco, where it has a small presence with 250 bikes, and Washington, DC. About 100 JUMP employees will join Uber, the spokeswoman said.”
“Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the acquisition furthers Uber’s goal of offering ‘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’.”