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Grow’s woes: Mobility app officially announces acquisition talks

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto –  It’s official, Grow Mobility—Mexican-Brazilian micro-mobility scaleup—is in talks to be acquired by an undisclosed buyer. This is the first internally confirmed instance of “ongoing conversations with an acquirer,” Head of Communications at Grow, Beriana Mendoza, acknowledged in conversation with Contxto.

This comes on the heels of today’s announcement that Rappi—the Colombian soon-to-be super-app—removed Grow’s green scooters—Grin—from its platform.

However, from there on out, the rest is just hearsay, conjecture, and rumor-mongering. 

Take this morning’s report that Grow‘s purported buyer is Peixe—a self-declared Latin American e-commerce—spread across six regional economies, including Grow Mobility’s two main markets; Mexico and Brazil.

But, hold your horses, since that specific detail (the buyer’s identity) is yet to be confirmed by the company. And yet, if it does turn out to be true, it will explain a whole lot about what has been happening in Grow for the past few days. 

Rappi to Grow, only for Rappi to go

You see, Peixe was actually Groupon Latam as of barely just last year. On the other hand, you’ve got Rappi openly declaring itself to be an aspiring super-app. 

Related article: Rappi wants to be the super app of Latin America

Therefore, it isn’t too much of a flight of fancy to imagine that Rappi’s sudden announcement that it was ditching Grin and the ongoing acquisition talks were connected. 

This is why the order of events is important: if the acquisition talks were going forward before Rappi broke up with Grow, then that certainly would have seemed like a conflict of interest clash.

However, Grow’s Mendoza categorically stated that there was no connection between the two events. It just happened that Rappi decided to go its own way on virtually the same day as information about the sale started filtering. 

On the face of it, it seems to be just a case of “when it rains it pours”. Nevertheless, timing is still important either way.

Scooters need a wide berth and a wider portfolio

The storm clouds have been gathering over Grow Mobility for quite a while now.

Whether the Rappi and ongoing acquisition talks are directly connected doesn’t take away from the fact that it was becoming increasingly clear that Grow needed to be thrown a life-preserver. 

Related article: Grow isn’t growing—it’s retreating and making layoffs

It turns out, turning a profit on renting bikes and scooters is really tough. 

Why is it so difficult to find a viable business model for micro-mobility? The question is especially pertinent since Grow was, up until very recently, the darling of Bay Area venture capitalists (VCs) and a contender to join the Latin American unicorn club.

The answer increasingly seems to be that micro-mobility can work, but only within a broader portfolio. Ergo, both strategic moves by Grow, first with Rappi and now with these closed-door talks.

So, whatever happens in the next few days, as more details are revealed (watch this space), the bigger picture that will emerge will surely be that Grow Mobility as we know it will cease to exist. 

But, hey, even if these acquisition talks do flounder, Grow need only remember: there are always more peixes in the sea.

-AG

Alejandro González Ormerod
Historian, writer, and editor from Mexico City. He was a book publisher, academic, and cheesemonger before joining Contxto. Still deciding on which Latin American country to visit next; food and fun are the main criteria.

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