Segway Just Acquired By Chinese Startup Ninebot
Ninebot says it bought maker of two-wheeled vehicles
Ninebot’s CEO Gao Lufeng said the U.S. company is an influential brand, with a strong patent portfolio and market presence.
“With the two brands together we will have a lot of resources,” Gao said at a news conference in Beijing.
Segway president Rod Keller sent a videotaped message, saying: “Today, Segway became a part of the Ninebot family.”
Ninebot will give a second go at popularizing the electric transporters. The Segway was launched to intense hype in 2001, with inventor Dean Kamen famously declaring that it would “be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” But it failed to go mainstream, as they are too fast and bulky to be allowed on sidewalks in most cities but too small for safety on major roads.
Unsurprisingly, as a three-year-old startup, Ninebot needed a little help from others with this purchase: the same event announced that Ninebot received an $80 million investment from Xiaomi — who’s got plenty of cash to play with — plus three venture capital firms, but there was no mention of how much of that went towards said acquisition. What’s also unclear is the future of the Segway brand, but it’ll no doubt provide Xiaomi another gateway into the US market.