Uber and Lyft appear to be pursuing a crowdsourced bus startup called Skedaddle, the latest indication that the ride-hailing companies want to build businesses that cover every mode of transit from last-mile solutions like scooters and bikes to inter-city travel in cars and high-capacity vehicles for longer distances.
Uber has been in discussions to acquire Skedaddle for more than a month, an unnamed source familiar with the talks told TechCrunch. Skedaddle was also in talks with Lyft more recently, another source confirmed.
Lyft is not in discussions to acquire Skedaddle, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Skedaddle launched in 2015 to help people find a low-cost and easy way to travel to out-of-town events like music festivals. Think of it as rideshare, but to another town, not to the bar down the street. Skedaddle developed an app that lets individuals crowdsource private bus rides. Once there’s demand for a ride to a destination — a music festival or say, to a trailhead at a popular hiking spot — the bus is booked. The bus then picks up the confirmed riders within the origin city.
The company, which is based in Boston and New York, has largely stuck to the East Coast. But it’s recently expanded thanks in part to the Women’s March on Washington held in March 2017.
Skedaddle received media attention earlier this year when the company said it transported more than 11,000 individuals to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., from places as far away as Kansas.
Uber and Lyft have both been making moves in recent months toward a multi-modal ecosystem, a jargon term that basically means having a market share in various forms of transportation. A long-distance rideshare product that could be used as commuter transit or to events is a missing piece for both companies.
In April, Uber acquired JUMP bikes for a sum that came close $200 million. Just days later, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced a deal with instant car-booking service Getaround to launch a product called UberRENT and a partnership with Masabi, a mobile ticketing platform for public transit that works with 30 transportation agencies worldwide, including Los Angeles’ Metrolink. Uber also has applied for a permit to deploy electric scooters in San Francisco.
Khosrowshahi recently appointed Rachel Holt as head of New Modalities, a position that will put her in charge of bringing on additional mobility services such as scooters, car rentals and bikes.
Meanwhile, Lyft closed its own big deal. Last week, the company closed on $600 million in fresh funding and acquired Motivate, the oldest and largest electric bike-share company in North America, for undisclosed terms.
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