Segway, maker of the iconic two wheeled personal transporter, has been bought over by Chinese rival Ninebot. Under the agreement, Segway will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ninebot and will still operate under its own brand. The same announcement also said that Ninebot has successfully raised some US$80 million in funding from investors like Xiaomi, Sequoia Capital, and Shunwei Foundation.
Ninebot already makes personal human transporters similar to Segway’s own products. The Ninebot E looks and operates very much like a Segway, while the Ninebot One is a single wheeled design. However, Segway is the leading brand in these kinds of transporters, with most vehicles of this type simply referred to as a Segway.
The terms of the sale have not been revealed, and it is not known how much Ninebot paid for the American company. Segway’s transporters were not nearly as popular as the company had hoped, and its vehicles have often been used for comedic effect on TV rather than as examples of the future. This is not the first time that Segway has been sold as the first owners had already sold controlling rights to the company to Summit Strategic Investments LLC back in 2013.
Ninebot’s funding from Xiaomi may raise some eyebrows, although the Chinese electronics manufacturer has been rapidly expanding into devices that are not smartphones. Xiaomi already dabbles in televisions, set top boxes, power banks, and has been dipping its toes into the Internet of Things. It is likely that the company will be watching the sales potential of these personal human transporters after investing in a company like Ninebot.