In a shocking reveal, Ninebot, a leading China short-distance transportation maker has acquired its US-based rival Segway, the world's leading personal electric transportation provider. Under terms of the agreement signed in Beijing, Segway will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ninebot. The value of the acquisition was not disclosed.
Ninebot and Segway will continue to serve the market through their respective brands and products.
The joint announcement also revealed that three-year old Ninebot has raised USD80 million in Series A funding from leading investors that include Xiaomi Technology, Sequoia Capital and Shunwei Foundation. Xiaomi is reported to have a controlling stake in Ninebot although the size of the holding is unknown.
What's intriguing is that Segway, just six months ago, was in a legal spat with Nintebot for IP infringement. Segway sought an import ban against Ninebot in the US market, last September.
Segway, founded in 2001 by Dean Kamen, has gained cult status with its products but has yet to become profitable. Segway products are used by police, tour groups and in commercial applications. Its steep pricing however, has hampered consumer adoption.
Segway holds more than 400 patents related to transport devices.
Through the strategic alliance, both companies will collaborate in technology and marketing areas to enhance R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities.
The short-distance transportation industry is expected to grow and the strategic alliance will enable Ninebot and Segway to apply their technologies into future products including electric driving, mobile internet and man-machine interaction.
With investment by Xiaomi is there a possibility of an affordable Xiaomi personal mobile transport device in the near future?