Uber sold its bike and scooter business to the startup Lime earlier this month. But thousands of vehicles didn’t transition to Lime, which acquired only bicycles that hadn’t been made available for consumer use in cities.
Roughly 20,000 to 30,000 Jump vehicles have now disappeared from streets nationwide in recent weeks, according to estimates from four former Jump employees. Uber confirmed that tens of thousands of its bikes and scooters are being “recycled.”
It is a dramatic turn of events for Jump, which unveiled a new scooter in March and had seen ridership gains in the last year.
“I would have never imagined when joining the company just over 90 days ago that we would be in the situation we find ourselves in today,” Bill Knapp, who had led Uber’s Jump team, wrote in a farewell email earlier this month to staff, most of whom were laid off.
Fewer than two years ago, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was proudly reporting that its purchase of Jump was going well. Uber users were switching from cars to bikes trips during rush hour.
“Our acquisition of JUMP was a direct investment in the idea that the best way to get around a city is sometimes not in a car at all,” Khosrowshahi said in a Sept. 2018 blog post. By 2019, Uber users were taking six times as many trips on Jump’s vehicles compared with the year before.
But along came 2020, Uber’s financial struggles during the pandemic, and the sale of Jump to Lime.