Tier speeds up its global micromobility dominance with latest acquisition

3 Mar 2022

Image: Tier Mobility

European micromobility operator Tier has bought Spin from Ford, marking its entrance to the North American market.

German start-up Tier Mobility has become one of the world’s largest micromobility operators with its acquisition of Spin.

Spin started out with its shared e-scooters and e-bikes in Seattle in 2017 and claims to have launched the first stationless bike-sharing programme in the US. In 2018, it was acquired by Ford for $100m.

Future Human

Since then there have been bumps in the road for Spin, which this year axed about a quarter of its workforce as it exited a number of markets in the US as well as Germany, Portugal and Spain. This restructure put Spin’s focus on markets that issue permits for micromobility operators.

At the time, Spin CEO Ben Bear said that “free-for-all markets” were presenting a challenge due to persistent changes in the competitive landscape, the lack of caps on fleet sizes and “race to the bottom pricing”.

Spin has held on to its business where it has permits, however, which presents a lot of value for Tier.

Taking over Spin marks Berlin-headquartered Tier’s entry into the North American market, adding more than 100 locations in the US and Canada to its global footprint.

Spin also operates a fleet in the UK. Its North American team will continue to run as a separate entity while its UK business will transfer to Tier at a later date.

Prior to the Spin acquisition, Tier was operating in more than 400 cities with a fleet of 250,000 vehicles. This brings it global footprint to more than 520 locations across 21 countries and adds a further 50,000 vehicles to its fleet.

This is the third acquisition by Tier since it closed a $200m Series D round to fund strategic investments and acquisitions. In November, its acquisition of shared bike service Nextbike saw it take over Belfast’s public bike scheme. It then went on to buy up the Italy subsidiary of Wind Mobility, Vento Mobility, in December.

“Tier and Spin share the same foundational view of how to deliver world-class micromobility services to cities and riders,” said Bear. “Both companies believe in a partnership-first approach, operating with employees rather than contractors, and helping get people out of cars by offering sustainable, equitable and safe micromobility services.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but, according to Ford’s VP of new business Franck Louis-Victor, the automaker will “remain in the mix as a strategic investor in Tier”.

Lawrence Leuschner, CEO and co-founder of Tier, said the acquisition and move into North America marks “huge milestones” for the company.

“We are excited to support citizens in cities and communities across North America to make the switch from cars to more sustainable urban mobility solutions – a switch that is urgently needed to decarbonise towns and cities across the world,” he said.

Tier will be updating the Spin fleet so that each of its scooters and bikes uses a swappable battery, a key feature of Tier’s vehicles.

Spin itself markets its e-scooters for their computer vision technology, which is used to detect when users are riding on pathways instead of roads and to help improve parking. The company partnered with Drover AI on this technology.

Similarly, Tier has partnered with Irish computer vision start-up Luna to trial its technology and examine how it might be integrated into Tier’s e-scooters at the point of manufacture.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com