New electric scooter and bike companies keep raising money. You can add Wheels to the at least 25 firms that have started running or intend to launch electric scooter rental services across several continents, most of them with venture backing. Wheels was started last fall by Joshua and Jonathan Viner, who were replaced atop Wag in early 2018 after the dog-walking startup raised $300 million in cash from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. They announced today Wheels raised $37 million in equity and debt capital, mostly from investors who also backed Wag, including Tenaya Capital and Bullpen Capital.
Several features make Wheels different than other industry players like Bird, Lime or Jump. Wheels’ vehicle (pictured here) is a cross between a bike and a scooter. It has a seat and is shaped like a bicycle, but doesn’t have any pedals. Jon Viner said the company tried to make a vehicle that is more safe and stable—it has larger wheels than a scooter, for instance—while making it “an extremely viral product… it needs to look really cool, really sleek, remind you a lot of your childhood,” he said.
Wheels will have a bigger presence in Southern California in the coming months. Wheels got approval along with several other industry players to run thousands of vehicles in Los Angeles, in the coming weeks, according to the city. The company says it is currently running 500 vehicles in San Diego. Another company, Razor, which has long sold different mobility products like scooters direct to consumers, also has been renting out new types of scooters with seats in markets like San Diego.