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CRE Investors Like Dockless Bike Sharing As ‘Innovation Amenity'

Dockless bike provider Lime has raised $335M in Series C funding, including another round of cash from Fifth Wall Ventures, a VC investor better known for its real estate plays.


Does Lime somehow count as a real estate enterprise, or is Fifth Wall branching out from real estate? Fifth Wall sees Lime as an "innovation amenity" that its commercial real estate partners are adding to their properties, Commercial Observer reports.

Fifth Wall principal Roelof Opperman told CO that the investment firm has already signed Lime contracts with two major real estate partners — one a major retail outlet — to offer the smart bikes and scooters at their properties, with another deal in the works.

The value of bike-sharing to apartment properties has been quantified. Increased mobility options, including transit, car-share, bike-share or ride-share, have shown to be directly related to higher rents for apartments, according to a recent study conducted by RCLCO and TransitScreen.

The venture capital firm didn't disclose how much it put into Lime this time around, though it led Lime's Series B round early this year. Altogether, San Mateo, California-based Lime has raised $467M in the past 18 months, with Silicon Valley VC Andreessen Horowitz as the prime backer.

As a VC firm, Fifth Wall is largely backed by CRE companies such as Hines, Macerich and Prologis.

Lime is part of a global movement by cities to adopt bike-sharing. Bike-sharing systems have emerged around the world over the past 10 years, with a total fleet of shared bicycles at about 1 million in 2017, according to the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy.

There are now about 600 total bike-share operators worldwide, and the industry is expected to grow at about 20% per year to become a $5.8B market by 2020, consultancy Roland Berger reports.

Currently, Lime is in more than 75 urban U.S. markets, as well as on more than a dozen university campuses and in a handful of European markets. It also carries dockless bikes.

Dockless bikes, though sometimes proven to be ill-parked nuisances, have a cost-advantage over bike-sharing that depends on docks. Dockless bikes are much less expensive than their docked counterparts, typically around $1/hour.