Segway Sold To Its Chinese Copycat Maker
BEIJING, China – Last week Ninebot Inc. – a Chinese maker of ‘personal short-distance mobility devices’ that has its HQ in Beijing – announced that it has taken-over Segway Inc. together with four other Chinese investors. Ninebot is known for making Segway copycats.
Ninebot clinched the deal between four Chinese investors and Summit Strategic Investments; the company that’s since 2013 owner of Segway; the US-based pioneering maker of two-wheeled upright e-scooters. The deal will lead into a 100 percent Segway takeover by Ninebot.
Alleged patent infringement by Ninebot
Industry insiders hearing about this deal are saying, “Segway bought by the Segway copycat company.” Segway introduced its innovative personal e-transporter in 2001. Chinese start-up Ninebot Inc. was officially founded in 2012. Next to its one-wheel e-personal transporter ‘Ninebot One’ the company presented a Segway copycat called ‘Personal Transportation Robot’. In September 2014 Segway filed a legal complaint against rival Ninebot for alleged patent infringement.
This is in the past now as Segway president Rod Keller attended the press conference that was held April 15 in Beijing via live-stream video. He welcomed the deal saying, “The strategic alliance with Ninebot will enable us to provide more intelligent and valuable products for our customers.”
Four Chinese investors are backing the takeover-deal. They are MIUI Technology, Sequoia Capital, Sunwei Fund and Sequoia Capital A Round. Behind MIUI Technology is Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Tech.
US$ 80 million investment
These four companies ate to invest US$ 80 million in Ninebot while a strategic alignment with the Segway Company is to take place. After this strategic alignment is completed, Segway will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ninebot.
The two companies will continue to operate under their existing brands. Looking at current Segway sales this deal makes sense. After the first hype was over sales down-hilled worldwide (especially in Europe). Upcoming rival Ninebot was also a threat for the pioneering US personal transporter maker.