China’s Ninebot Inc. has inked an agreement to acquire Segway, the US firm that manufactures electric two-wheeled personal transportation devices.
Ninebot, a Beijing-based firm backed by smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, has purchased Segway for an undisclosed sum, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The deal is raising some eyebrows as Segway had earlier accused the Chinese scooter startup of copying the US firm’s funky signature products.
Ninebot has just raised US$80 million in Series A financing from Xiaomi, Sequoia Capital and Shunwei Foundation.
Segway was launched to intense hype in 2001, with inventor Dean Kamen famously declaring that it would “be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy”.
But it failed to go mainstream, as they are too fast and bulky to be allowed on sidewalks in most cities but too small for safety on major roads, the Journal noted.
Now, Ninebot — which was founded in 2012 by a team of Chinese robotics engineers — will give a second go at popularizing the electric transporters.
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