April 19, 2015

Startup Ninebot with Smartphone Giant Xiaomi backing buys Segway for alternative transportation unification

Segway Inc., the developer of two-wheeled, electric-powered people movers, was acquired by China-based competitor Ninebot Inc.

After allying with Segway, Ninebot will use electric driving, mobile Internet and man-machine interaction technologies for future products, Gao Lufeng, Ninebot chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Beijing. The companies didn’t disclose terms of the April 1 transaction.

The announcement came after Xiaomi Corp., the Beijing-based smartphone maker that owns part of Ninebot, joined in an $80 million funding round for Ninebot that included Sequoia Capital and the Shunwei Foundation. Ninebot began two years ago as a crowd-funded project and its products are now available in more than 38 countries, with production facilities in China, according to its website.

The China-based company also makes a single-wheeled device called the Ninebot One. In the U.S., the Ninebot sells for $3,199, while the Ninebot One can be purchased for $850, according to the company’s website.

Xiaomi, China’s largest smartphone maker, is expanding into web-enabled smart home devices and consumer electronics by taking stakes in other startups. The company has backed 27 such companies under plans to invest in as many as 100, Xiaomi Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun has said.

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