This founder once tried to compete with Android and iOS. Now, he's taking on Uber and Lyft with a new e-bike startup that just raised $20 million.
- Bond Mobility announced Wednesday it raised $20 million in Series A funding from DENSO's New Mobility Group, which includes Toyota and Softbank.
- Bond Mobility cofounder Kirt McMaster was ousted as CEO of his last startup, Cyanogen, in the wake of reports the company exaggerated its success and misled investors.
- McMaster told Business Insider that speed e-bikes solve the last-mile problem in urban and suburban centers better than e-bikes and scooters currently on the market.
- According to McMaster, speed e-bikes have the potential to replace cars since they are able to travel up to six miles, more than double other micro-mobility services.
- Bond Mobility is currently available in Switzerland with plans to expand to US markets in the "coming quarters," McMaster told Business Insider.
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Kirt McMaster started Cyanogen with an ambitious goal to become the third-most dominant operating system behind Apple and Google. Now, he's back to take on another duopoly: Lyft and Uber.
McMaster cofounded Bond Mobility in 2017, shortly after being ousted as CEO of Cyanogen following reports the company exaggerated its success and misled investors. On Wednesday, Bond Mobility announced it raised $20 million in Series A funding from DENSO's New Mobility Group, which includes Toyota and Softbank, as it prepares to outpace other dockless bike and scooter startups in the United States.
Similar US-based micro-mobility startups - like Bird, Lime, and Jump - have seen a surge of investor interest and in some cases, have reached unicorn status or been acquired. But according to McMaster, these companies are relying on a fundamentally useless piece of hardware in low-powered scooters and e-bikes.
"We think the speed e-bike is the apex predator and we have the opportunity to eat the under-six-mile-journey category," McMaster told Business Insider. "There's hundreds of millions of dollars in the space between the scooter guys. Scooters are just oversaturated. They are targeting the pedestrian journey. The promise of micro-mobility was about reducing the impact of your carbon footprint and gridlock, so you need to replace vehicle transportation."
According to McMaster, Bond's speed e-bikes are a more powerful version of the Jump e-bikes and more like Scoot mopeds, without the additional certification needed to drive them. McMaster told Business Insider that Bond's e-bikes have longer battery life and more efficient motors, so they will better serve people outside of dense urban centers.
He also said that the quick rise of scooter startups in the US provided ample opportunity for his team to learn from a safe distance overseas.
"I think you're going to see going to see a lot of consolidation [of transportation startups] in 2019," McMaster said. "I personally like to compete in a space where no one else is competing, and we're clearly differentiated from everyone else."
Bond will use capital from Wednesday's Series A to help expand into the US in "the coming quarters," McMaster said. He said is not concerned about his reintroduction to Silicon Valley after being ousted at Cyanogen as the company dealt with allegations of fraud and misleading investors, and thinks his experience at the failed startup helped him develop a more cautious approach to building a hardware business.
"I've done a number of startups, and when you raise a lot of money, you tend to take for granted that capital will always be available," McMaster said. "The winds have shifted to some extent and we need to be more aware that this is less about blitzscaling, you just can't do that when you are a hardware company. Micro-mobility is a megatrend, it's not going away and investors will invest in companies that show sustainable business pursuing sustainable markets."
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