Abu Dhabi-based micromobility company Fenix has acquired Palm, a shared e-scooter company in Turkey, for $5 million – the exact amount the company raised last November and this past February during its seed round.
Despite having not even raised a Series A round yet, Fenix scrounged together the cash and equity needed to fund this buy and stretch into Turkey, calling on additional capital from existing investors Maniv Mobility and Emkan Capital. Fenix would not disclose the terms of the acquisition or how much it recently raised.
This acquisition marks Fenix’s expansion into its fifth Middle Eastern country and 13th city since its launch last November, making it the largest shared micromobility operator in the region, ahead of regional competitors KIWIride, Careem and Arnab Mobility.
“Palm has a meaningful presence in Istanbul, and the city will be a major focus for our company in the near term,” Jaideep Dhanoa, co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch. “Beyond Istanbul, we see tremendous opportunity across Turkey. The country is home to 83 million people and there are 24 cities with a million or more people. Mersin, for example, is another coastal city Palm operates in today where we will continue to invest.”
Berhan Goskin and Alican İstanbullu, Palm’s founders, will continue to lead the company and Fenix’s expansion plans across Turkey. Existing Palm shareholders will also migrate over and support Fenix’s efforts to lead the market in Turkey, according to a statement from the company.
The Palm acquisition not only hands off Palm’s fleet of around 1,500 Ninebot e-scooters to Fenix, bringing the startup’s total vehicle size up to 10,000, but it also gives Fenix a built-in permit with Istanbul, a city of 15.5 million people.
“Recently the Turkey Ministry of Transport legalized shared e-scooters nationally in a very progressive and pro-competition manner,” said Dhanoa. “This regulatory clarity increased the attractiveness of the market for investment and was a significant motivator for the transaction. There are several local market requirements to qualify for a five-year license which is partially why we went in inorganically. With Palm we now have a five-year license for e-scooter sharing in Turkey and expect to receive permits in some of the highest potential districts in the country.”
Istanbul’s first round of applications for capped e-scooter permits were due earlier this month, so the acquisition means Fenix didn’t need to apply for a new license. It will, however, have to comply with all local Turkey market requirements.
Fenix says it will begin deploying several thousands of its vehicles, laden with built-in hand sanitizers, in August, adding to Palm’s existing fleet, which will be rebranded to reflect new ownership. Fenix did not disclose who its manufacturing partner is for its vehicles, but told TechCrunch that it’s “not one of the usual suspects” and that the partnership is exclusive and involves a co-development of custom vehicles for their markets.
As part of its entry into Istanbul, Fenix also has plans to establish an R&D center on the ground for software and hardware in order to “develop breakthrough technologies for the Turkish market and to export to the Greater Middle East region,” according to a statement.“Turkey has some of the top tech talent in the broader region, and now that we’ll also be operating there, we’re excited about leveraging that talent pool to help us craft solutions for the Turkey market, as well as apply them to the rest of our network,” IQ Sayed, co-founder and CTO, told TechCrunch. “This holds for all our offerings and all parts of our tech stack, but I’m especially looking forward to augmenting our payments tech, machine learning and IoT capabilities there. We will also be looking into local manufacturing opportunities.”