Giant companies like Uber and Lyft are getting into the scooter business, but Lime's CEO is welcoming the new competition with open arms


Toby Sun Top 100

  • In just two years, Lime has racked up a $2 billion valuation while powering more than 50 million bike and scooter rides around the world. 
  • It’s a packed industry, with giants like Uber and Lyft competing with a dozen smaller companies to launch very similar services. 
  • CEO Toby Sun, one of Business Insider’s 100 people transforming business, isn’t worried about the new competition. He’s welcoming it with open arms. 

Americans make 1.1 billion trips every day.

A huge chunk of those are less than two miles.

That’s something Toby Sun, the co-founder and chief executive of Lime, wants to change.

To his credit, the company has already made an impressive dent despite its relative adolescence. In April, Lime announced that more than 50 million trips had been made on its bikes and scooters around the world.

Meanwhile, the company’s racked up a unicorn valuation of over $2 billion from investors including silicon valley giants like Alphabet, Uber, Andreessen Horowitz, and more as it expanded to 100+ cities on five continents.

“I think we are maybe .1 mile into this marathon,” Sun told Business Insider in an interview. “It’s an incredibly challenging problem to solve, but an important one because it’s impacting people every day.”

Despite the absolute explosion of scooters  — operated by dozens of companies, including massive payers like Uber and Lyft — in cities large and small around the world, Sun is confident that continued growth is still possible. The competition, he says, can only make things better.

Lime scooter

“We’re actually excited about all the competition, because it’s how we get better,” Sun said of Lyft’s pledge to invest heavily in expanded bike and scooter offerings. Uber, through its jump bikes subsidiary, plans to do much of the same.

“We’re also not too worried about that because this is a very complicated business, and only the right team with the right scale will be able to scale,” he continued. “The ability to learn fast from the global footprint that we have will allow us to continue to improve.”

Getting cars out of cities

Getting people to drive less seems to be the theme-du-jour among tech companies, and it’s slowly making inroads with political leaders

Not only have Uber and Lyft mentioned allowing people to live car-free as a goal in their IPO filings, but several cities — including New York — are gearing up to enact congestion charges on drivers entering their most crowded streets.

“Many cities have a goal of reducing traffic congestion and pollution, with some of them even calling it ‘vision zero’, which is exactly aligned with us,” Sun said.

“In addition to that, it’s important to work with cities to promote and build more infrastructure,” he continued. “For example, protected bike lanes separating the high-speed vehicles from pedestrians.”

There have been reports that Uber or another large player may be interested in buying out Lime. Sun dismissed them as rumors, and said the company still has plenty of room left to run before its mission is anywhere close to completed.

“This is an exciting tipping point for urban living, globally,” Sun said. “In the past, most of the infrastructure was not built properly for bikes and scooters. Now, we’re creating a platform for accelerating this process.

“I’m just very excited that Lime is part of the driving force to accelerate the urban mobility revolution.”

SEE ALSO: Lime confirms its raising another $300 million round that raises its valuation to a whopping $2.4 billion

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