Uber buys on-demand bike-sharing firm Jump

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The acquisition shows Uber's ambitions to move beyond a ride-hailing company to a multimodal transportation provider.

Uber users around the world may soon be able to hire electric bicycles through the app, after the ride-sharing firm bought United States bike-hire firm Jump.

Currently, JUMP is the only dockless bike sharing company that's permitted to operate in San Francisco, and for the moment that operation is relatively small in scale. The response from riders and the adoption of JUMP's neon red e-bikes have been incredible.

But more pressingly for the ride-hailing business, bike-sharing, and especially electric bike-sharing, poses a particular threat to the industry at large.

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Jump is the sole dockless bike-share operator now available in San Francisco. "You drive down a street, you see bikes everywhere, all scattered out", Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins told the Wall Street Journal late last month.

New York-based Jump, which employs around 100 people, will be a subsidiary of Uber - with the goal of making bikes available worldwide using the Uber app.

He added that Jump will keep its research and development offices in Brooklyn, where the company was founded in 2010 as Social Bicycles.

Ryan Rzepecki, Jump's chief executive, started working on bike sharing nearly a decade ago, initially with a company called Social Bicycles that sold bicycles to different cities.

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As Reuters notes, this acquisition could potentially put Uber back on the map in worldwide markets where it has struggled.

Its CEO, Ryan Rzepecki, and the rest of the JUMP Bikes team will join Uber as a subsidiary, with Rzepecki reporting directly to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

"We expected to find a toxic work environment and a broken culture", Rzepecki said in the blog post announcing the acquisition. "Instead, everyone we met was smart, passionate, and genuinely wanted to help our team succeed".

As part of its pilot program with Uber, the Uber app presented users with a "bike" option in a drop-down menu. As part of the pilot program, Jump is now only allowed to operate 250 bikes in the city. Now no dockless-biking companies have been authorized to operate in the city, but in December the NYC DOT put out a request for expressions of interest from such ventures.

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Similarly, Grab, the popular cab aggregator from Southeast Asia and Didi of China also have their bike-sharing services in place. "These past four years, we've strengthened Citi Bike and doubled its size". Rzepecki is a city planner by training, and Jump has had success running bike-share systems in cities all over the globe.

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