The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Ola Electric to acquire scooter business Etergo; BlaBlaCar expands to scooter sharing; and Bolt announces capital raise at €1.7bn valuation.
Ola Electric to acquire scooter business Etergo
Ola Electric, the EV business that spun out of the ride-hailing giant Ola last year, has acquired an Amsterdam-based electric scooter startup. The news comes as the Indian firm looks to locally produce and launch its own line of two wheelers as soon as this year.
The Indian firm said it has acquired Etergo, a Dutch firm that has built a scooter that uses swappable, high energy battery that delivers a range of up to 240km. Ola did not reveal the terms of the deal, but Etergo was valued at around USD$90m in its previous financing round. The six-year-old startup had raised €20.3m from the market before its acquisition.
The Indian firm, which gained the unicorn status last year when it raised USD$300m, said it plans to launch its electric two wheeler in India next year. Gasoline-powered two wheelers dominate the Indian roads today, but a handful of established players and newcomers including Here Electric Vehicles and Ather Energy have started to design and produce the electric counterpart in the country in recent years.
BlaBlaCar expands to scooter sharing
Long-distance ridesharing startup BlaBlaCar is expanding to scooter sharing. But the company isn’t going to operate its own fleet of scooters. Instead, BlaBlaCar is partnering with Voi, a European e-scooter service that has raised $136m over multiple rounds.
Voi operates in dozens of European cities, including Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Over the next few weeks, Voi scooters will feature three different brands — Voi, BlaBlaCar and BlaBla Ride.
Existing Voi members will still be able to use the Voi app. But BlaBlaCar also plans to launch its own app, BlaBla Ride. Existing BlaBlaCar users will be able to log in with their BlaBlaCar accounts.
According to AFP, BlaBlaCar says it isn’t a financial transaction — it’s just a partnership that could benefit users of both platforms.
Interestingly, unlike Grab, Gojek and Uber, BlaBlaCar isn’t building a super app to access several different services. BlaBlaLines is still a separate app, for instance. It creates some friction for users that could be interested in multiple services.
Bolt announces capital raise at €1.7bn valuation
Bolt, a rival to Uber and others providing on-demand ridesharing, scooters and other transportation services across some 150 cities in Europe and Africa, is announcing another capital raise. This comes as it weathers a difficult market climate where, because of COVID-19, many are staying in place and avoiding modes of transport that put them into contact with others.
The Estonia-based company has picked up an additional €100m in a convertible note. Bolt also confirmed that is now valued at €1.7bn. The funding is one more example of how investors are continuing to support their most promising, and/or most capitalised, portfolio companies as they face drastic losses of business during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can only be more complicated for a startup built on a business model that — even in the best of times — is very capital-intensive.
Before this round, in April we were hearing that Bolt was running out of runway and that they were in discussion also with the Estonian government — a big supporter of the country’s tech industry — to underwrite debt in the company. There appear to be some issues, however, regarding how much it pays in taxes in the country due to how it is registered.
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