Long the butt of endless jokes and victim of failed ambitions, Segway is not only still alive, but is now expanding.
The New Hampshire-based company announced today that it would launch a personal robotics business this year, in a press release that is woefully short on details.
The company infamous for making the Segway scooter will continue to make that product under its Segway PT (Personal Transportation) division. This will be complemented by a Segway Robotics division that will “create a futuristic concept by integrating existing technological proposals.”
In other words: Huh? No details on what these home robotic service things might do.
We might be tempted to shrug this off if not for the fact that one of the partners on the new robotics thingy is Intel and the other is Xiaomi.
In April 2015, Segway was acquired by Beijing-based company Ninebot (which it had once sued for stealing its intellectual property) and raised $80 million in funding from a slate of investors that at that time included Xiaomi, Sequoia Capital, and Shunwei Foundation.
Ninebot makes the Ninebot One, a single-wheel-shaped transportation device that you stand on. Back in the fall, Ninebot released the Ninebot Mini, which is a transportation platform with two wheels that you also stand on.
According to the new press release, “Ninebot will become a brand under Segway’s Personal Transportation business line.” Translation: The companies have merged and will keep the name Segway, while tucking Ninebot inside.
Finally, Segway says it had raised another round of funding (amount unspecified) at a valuation of $1 billion, with investment from Intel Capital and GIC.
Of course, Ninebot had received a round of funding from Intel Capital back in September (amount unspecified). This is presumably a different round, though we’ve sent an email to Segway asking for clarification.
In any case, the valuation means that Segway is likely the first new unicorn of 2016.
Startling to think that the company that makes every mall cop’s favorite mode of transportation may yet have the last laugh.