Scooter companies Lime and Bird are looking for new financing with bigger valuations.
Lime, officially Neutron Holdings, has been meeting with investors about a new round of funding and has discussed a valuation of $US3.3 billion ($A4.6b) or higher, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
It’s unclear whether there’s investor appetite at that price, but Lime has expressed optimism about getting a deal done, one of the people said.
In the past few weeks, Lime also met with Uber, an investor in the scooter company, about a potential acquisition, the people said.
Uber has been pursuing its own scooter strategy in an effort headed by executive Rachel Holt. The ride-hailing giant already purchased Jump Bikes earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Bird has scheduled talks with investors and is seeking an even more stratospheric valuation, two other people familiar with the matter said. An asking price could not be determined. Both Bird and Lime are seeking hundreds of millions in new capital, the people said.
The talks reveal the wild ambitions of these rival scooter companies. But some investors who are talking with the
startups remain skeptical about their ability to build businesses that would justify those valuations.
While the deals may never get done at the prices being discussed, the proposed valuations reflect the mania surrounding scooter companies in Silicon Valley.
Investors vividly recall a time when buying Uber shares at a $US3 billion valuation seemed crazy, only to watch the company’s value climb to $US76 billion today. Lime and Bird are spending money aggressively, leaving growth-stage investors weighing whether this is a collective fever dream or the chance to invest in the next Uber.
SoftBank has met with all the major scooter companies in the past few weeks, including Lime and Bird, according to a person familiar with the matter. The powerful investor is weighing whether to bet on a scooter company or count on its ride-sharing investments like Uber to win out, the person said.
A spokesman for Lime said in a statement, ‘We don’t comment on industry rumours. We are always looking for strategic partnerships and to fund raise. We’ve now built a strong brand with integrity that people want to join us on our journey and be part of the movement.’ A spokeswoman for Bird declined to comment.
The talks come as Lime has thrust itself into a contentious fight with San Francisco. Lime sued the city over its decision to reject its permit application, accusing the city of bias.
The company lost a bid for a temporary restraining order against the city on Friday, but the legal fight continues.