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Report: Ford Buys Electric Scooter-Share Startup Spin

Spin, which operates rental scooters in more than a dozen U.S. cities and on several college campuses, was among three companies that unleashed their two-wheelers onto San Francisco streets in March, triggering controversy that led to a temporary ban and a new permit process.

by Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle / November 9, 2018

(TNS) — In the latest sign of scooter mania, Ford Motor Co. reportedly has purchased San Francisco electric-scooter startup Spin for $40 million, according to a report by Axios, a news website.

Stand-up electric scooters have become a worldwide phenomenon over the past year. Companies that rent scooters via apps such as Bird and Lime now have valuations north of $1 billion and have raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

Like other carmakers, Ford is preparing for a future where personally-owned autos play less of a central role in transportation. Its Mobility Group acquired the Chariot commuter shuttle in 2016 and soon spread it beyond its San Francisco roots. In the Bay Area, Ford sponsors docked rental bikes operated by New York’s Motivate under the name Ford GoBike. Lyft is now acquiring Motivate. This year, Ford Mobility bought transportation tech companies Autonomic and TransLoc.

Spin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We are not commenting on this speculation,” said Ford spokesman Karl Henkel.

Spin, which operates rental scooters in more than a dozen U.S. cities and on several college campuses, was among three companies that unleashed their two-wheelers onto San Francisco streets in March, triggering controversy that led to a temporary ban and a new permit process.

However, Spin maintains that unlike rivals Bird and Lime, it informed the city of its intentions in advance. That’s the basis for an appeal it filed with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over not being granted a permit to operate in San Francisco. That appeal is pending.

“It’s our understanding that the MTA considered heavily whether companies used an ‘ask forgiveness instead of permission’ approach,” Brian Kyuhoon No, Spin head of public policy, told The Chronicle last month. “We actually did ask for permission. That’s a fact.”

Founded in 2016, Spin has raised $8 million in conventional venture capital. In June it planned to raise $125 million via a blockchain-based security token offering, also called an initial coin offering. It’s not clear how much its cryptocurrency offering, which was first reported by TechCrunch, actually raised.

Spin’s website shows that it has 24 employees. Spin started as a bike-share company but pivoted to rental scooters this year. It now operates in Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Miami; Charlotte, N.C.; and Denver, among other locations.

TechCrunch reported in June that Spin had a deal with Segway-owned electric scooter manufacturer Ninebot to buy 30,000 scooters a month through December.

©2018 the San Francisco Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.