Lyft Weighing Acquisition of Citi Bike Operator Motivate

Lyft Inc. is holding talks to buy Motivate, the Citi Bike operator, at a price of $250 million, said one person who is familiar with this matter. The talks are not completed and still could fall apart.

This acquisition, if successful, would catapult the second largest ride-hailing company in the U.S. into a growing war over electric bikes and scooters that is beginning to heat up in cities across the U.S.

Uber Technologies, the largest ride-hailing business in the world acquired electric bike business Jump Bikes earlier in 2018.

Meanwhile, large sums of money are being raised by independent companies in the electric scooter business. Bird, which was founded by the former COO of Lyft is raising close to $150 million in a current round that Sequoia leads.

Motivate has the biggest bike sharing program in all of the U.S. with partnerships from New York City to Chicago and San Francisco amongst other cities. It is a brand that is not yet well known since it usually yields its brand to the operator of the busienss it has in the different cities. The service in New York City is Citi Bike and GoBike from Ford in San Francisco.

Motivate has had electric bikes in the past, but primarily it rents sturdy traditional bikes.

A Lyft spokesperson would not comment and Motivate did not respond to requests for comments.

Lyft saw a rise in its fortunes during 2018, as it gained market shares while Uber stumbled. In February a top former executive from Tesla was brought in as the new COO.

Both Lyft and Uber could threaten the margins if they they flood the bike sharing market with electric scooters and bikes.

Notably, Lift and Uber have looked at companies with ties that are collaborative to city government.