Lime's CEO explains how the scooter company's 'near death experience' during the pandemic helped set it up to turn a profit next year

LimeWayne Ting, a four-year Uber veteran, took over as Lime’s CEO in May amid the pandemic.
  • Lime’s bike and scooter revenues plunged 95% when the pandemic hit in the spring, CEO Wayne Ting told Business Insider..
  • But it’s come out stronger than ever thanks to a pivot to become a one-stop app for any and all electric vehicles to get around.
  • Ting says the company is on track to turn a profit for the first time next year. It could be one of the first micro-mobility companies to do so.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Lime’s new CEO had his work cut out for him when he took over in May.

As the coronavirus pandemic brought virtually all travel to a standstill, the scooter and bike-rental company’s revenues quickly fell more than 95%, CEO Wayne Ting told Business Insider in an interview. But thanks to a shift in focus — and a buzzy deal with Uber to take over the ride-hailing firm’s micro-mobility suite — the company says it’s on track to turn a profit next year.

“Our vision for Lime is to be the platform for mobility under five miles,” said Ting, who spent four years at Uber before joining Lime in May. “If you’re in a city and are going from point A to point B, we want you to open the Lime app and know you can get there using the mode at the price point that you want.”

He doesn’t care if that’s on a Lime scooter, a Jump bike, or the app’s newest offering: a Wheels-branded sit-down scooter, available in four US cities this winter with more to follow. Every new vehicle, Ting says, helps Lime find new riders that might be averse to their original stand-up scooter for one reason or another.

“Our main scooter product is very popular with younger people, and with slightly more men than women,” Ting said. “But with eBikes, for example, we see people who are older, we see more women riders than men riders.”

After all, whether you’re sitting or standing, “the actual underlying technology isn’t that different.”

That should take some of the frustration out of arriving in a city, seeing a handful of differently branded vehicles, and having to choose which new app to download and use to move around. After an explosion of new micro-mobility companies, flush with venture capital cash, launched in recent years, Lime expects to see further consolidation similar to Uber’s exit earlier this year.

“I think 2020 into 2021 is a turning point for micro-mobility,” Ting said. “Covid was a near-death experience for a lot of us. But all of the trends underlying the growth of micro-mobility feel like they’re going faster.”

Specifically, he pointed to electrification, which is happening from bikes and scooters all the way to full-size cars. California, notably, has announced plans to prohibit the sale of new internal combustion-powered automobiles after 2035. The sharing economy, he also said, should continue to grow alongside Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and a whole host of other platforms.

“Historically in this industry, if you look at the amount of money that’s flowed into it and the amount of money that it appears to have lost,” Ting said. “It seems staggering. I think one of the great things about Covid and the moment we’ve gone through, is it’s forced companies to get better and think about the long term.”

“The people who can’t get serious about building a great business,” he continued, “sometimes don’t make it through.”

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