Tier scoots off with $200M, all-equity ‘first close’ of Series D

Berlin-based e-scooter rentals company Tier Mobility has announced a $200 million raise, which it says is the “first close” of its Series D, as investors continue to plough money into urban micromobility.

The startup confirmed to TechCrunch it will be raising a larger amount before the Series D is closed out (and the full round will also be a mix of debt and equity; although this first tranche is equity only).

However, it declined to specify how much it’s targeting for the full Series D raise.

“As part of the Series D round we just did our first close and seek to increase the equity round plus raise a new debt facility,” said a Tier spokesman.

Tier’s PR also describes today’s first close as “part of a broader equity and debt raise”.

Today’s announcement follows a $60 million debt raise this summer, and a $250 million Series C last November (led by SoftBank).

Micromobility startups typically have high capex costs, especially as they expand their fleets during periods of expansion, so debt raises are fairly common.

In a statement, Alex Gayer, chief financial officer at Tier Mobility, said: “This equity funding provides further firepower to scale our multimodal market presence globally, and pursue strategic investments & acquisitions. Our vehicle capex needs will be serviced with the debt capacity unlocked. Our goal is to build Tier into the European micro-mobility powerhouse, building on our current position as the number one player in the shared electric scooters market.”

Existing investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2 is co-leading the Series D with the UAE-based Mubadala Capital, which also backed Tier’s Series C last year, while other existing investors RTP Global, Novator, White Star Capital, Northzone and Speedinvest also participated.

Mubadala’s increased backing for Tier follows it jumping into the UAE’s market last year — after it was selected by the local Roads & Transport Authority, following a lengthy trial of scooter rentals.

The funding also sees new investors joining — including the green impact fund M&G Investments and Mountain Partners, a diversified global investment holding.

Tier said its micromobility business is now valued at $2 billion (which is up around double from the value being reported around the time of its Series C last year) — saying it’s raised a total of $660 million in equity and debt funding to date.

The 2018 launched e-scooter, e-bike and e-moped startup competes in a highly competitive space with myriad players, including the likes of Bird, Dott, Lime, Voi and Wind (to name a few) — although authorities in cities around the world have sought to bring a little structure to the fast-developing micromobility market by setting limits on the number of operators allowed per city. That means that winning a slot as a city provider can help leapfrog competitors at a local level.

In the press release, Tier, for example, trumpets its recent win of a tender to provide e-scooters for rent in a trial in London (alongside Dott and Lime). Other new cities it touts are both in the Middle East: Manama (Bahrain) and Doha (Qatar).

It also operates in Paris — where city authorities have been making a big push to shift the urban transport mix away from cars to alternatives like bikes and public transport. So it can claim some major wins.

To-date, Tier says it’s deployed 135,000 e-scooters, e-bikes and e-mopeds across 150 cities in 16 countries — claiming to have established itself as “the European market leader through unrivalled capital efficiency and operational excellence”.

The Berlin-based startup’s plan for the new funding is for “acquisitions and strategic investments”, as well as for further international expansion — with Tier saying it will be targeting coverage across strategic growth markets in Europe and the Middle East.

So it sounds like more consolidation is headed for the fast-paced e-scooter market as fresh dollars pour in. (And one way to circumvent city-imposed limits on the number of operators — to grab further scale — would be to buy up rivals that have won tenders in cities you haven’t… )

Tier also says it will be directing some of the investment into continuing to roll out its network of battery charging stations hosted by local businesses, aka the Tier Energy Network.

“With the launch of e-bikes in several European countries, Tier is expanding its growing range of multimodal options, making it the first European micro-mobility provider to offer users three different types of vehicles in one app,” it adds.

In a statement, Lawrence Leuschner, CEO and co-founder, said: “The funding provides Tier with additional resources to fulfil our mission to Change Mobility For Good. Clocking more than 80 million trips, replacing over 13 million car rides, in such a short amount of time exemplifies that cities around the world look for ways to make their transport networks safer and move towards a zero-emission future.”

“Lawrence, Matthias and Alex’s passion for change can be felt across the organisation — from Tier’s hub in Dubai to their HQ in Berlin,” added Amer Alaily, director at Mubadala Capital Ventures, Europe, in another supporting statement. “They have quickly emerged as not only a leader in the European micro-mobility space, but one whose commitment to sustainability sets them apart from their competitors. We are proud to have been part of their journey and look forward to remaining a partner to Lawrence and his team for years to come.”

This report was updated after Tier confirmed to us that this $200 million raise is a first all-equity tranche of what it intends will be a larger Series D — which will be a mix of debt and equity once closed.