Ford is buying scooter startup Spin

A user rides a Spin scooter on April 17, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

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A user rides a Spin scooter on April 17, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Ford is buying Spin, a 24-person scooter startup based in San Francisco.
  • Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Axios reported the price tag was $40 million.
  • Ford sees the agreements Spin makes with cities as a possible precursor to rolling out self-driving vehicles.

Ford is buying scooter startup Spin as doubles down on its investments in the future of transportation.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but founder and CEO Euwyn Poon said Ford plans to invest about $200 million in the company as it eyes expanding to 100 markets over the next year and a half.

Unlike many other scooter operators like Lime or Jump that have garnered a less-than-stellar reputation for their rogue operations, Spin prides itself on working with municipalities to establish policies before it launches.

“Spin shares our values,” Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s executive vice president and head of its Mobility unit, told Business Insider. “They only work in cities that they have a partnership with, where they have a permit and are licensed to work.”

Spin originated about two years ago as a dockless bike-share company, inspired by Poon’s travels in Beijing where the services were flourishing. The company raised $8 million in funding from five investors.

But after realizing their bikes were only doing about one ride per day, the company shifted to scooters – and now sees each vehicle make upwards of eight trips per day. This has allowed it to break even on a per-unit basis, Poon said, calling the revenue of $20-30 per day per scooter “a far cry” from what the company saw with bikes.

“Cities are really starting to recognize the benefit of micro-mobility solutions,” Poon said in an interview. “Ultimately our product solves a real problem for users and provides an equitable mode of transport, provided the proper policy framework is in place.”

Spin currently operates in nine cities and on five college campuses, and has eager ambitions to reach 100 markets in the next 18 months. Ford sees the initial contact with cities on scooters as a way to form relationships with cities that could eventually turn into self-driving car agreements.

“You can’t just show up in a city and say ‘Hi, I have an autonomous vehicle and we’d like to participate now’,” said Ford’s Klevorn. “We think its important to have the relationships with a city, build trust, and learn about their challenges and issues.”