The streets of San Francisco are getting overrun with venture-backed scooters.
The creators of Boosted Boards, the popular skateboards with remote-controlled electric motors, have launched Skip, yet another dockless electric scooter company. They’ve raised $6 million to bring their vision of electric scooters to life from A Capital, and Initialized Capital, which is run by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, TechCrunch reported today (May 17). Skip joins the ranks of LimeBike, Spin, Bird, and myriad bike companies dumping their vehicles around the City By The Bay. Between them, the companies have now raised over $260 million in venture capital for effectively the same idea.
Dockless electric scooters have taken over the West Coast and other cities in the US in recent months, much to the chagrin of local regulators who were generally not prepared for hundreds of vehicles to appear on their streets and sidewalks, in some cases overnight. Bird reportedly sent a LinkedIn message to city officials in Santa Monica, California, where it’s based, the night before it was going to deploy its first scooters. Bird was immediately hit with criminal charges for failing to acquire permits. It’s since paid the fines.
It’s not really clear why San Francisco needs a fourth scooter service. Presumably, eventually, one or two companies will win out, much like Uber and Lyft share the vast majority of the US ride-sharing market, with other players taking on niche markets or locations. Some companies will pitch certain selling points to attract a specific audience—Spin and LimeBike, for example, both also offer bikes, and Skip will likely have fans from its small but passionate Boosted Boards following.
But right now, there’s not much differentiating these services. Many of them, including Skip, according to TechCrunch, want to build their own scooters, but are currently using off-the-shelf models like you might find at Walmart. They all have apps that let you locate and pay for the scooters, and all of their services cost about the same.