September 30, 2020

Lime’s valuation, variable costs and diverging categories of on-demand companies

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.
We’re wrapping the week with Lime, scooters and the divergence between Uber and Lyft and their two-wheeled rivals. It’s been a hectic year for ride-hailing, but an even more turbulent time for the scooter unicorns that exploded into the venture capital scene in early 2018.
Scooter-focused startups were, at one point in time, among the hottest companies that money could chase. That’s no longer true. This week it was reported that at least one major player in the scooter world is pursuing a painful valuation cut so that it can raise the cash it needs to survive. Lime, according to The Information, may see its valuation fall to $400 million from $2.4 billion as it tries to “raise emergency funds.”
The scooter crisis has arrived as Uber and Lyft have come to something akin to a truce with public market investors, a feat that we’ve covered extensively. But perhaps most notable of all is the differing fortunes between Lime and friends, and Uber and Lyft. The two categories of on-demand transportation are diverging, and ironically, it’s the option that’s human-powered that appears set to come out in the best shape.
Let’s talk cash, profits, margins, and survival this morning as Uber and Lyft prepare to drive straight through the economic crisis, while scooters appear headed for a pothole at best.

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