Ninebot buys Segway

Purchase comes just months after patent infringement lawsuit initiated by Segway

Everyone is familiar with poacher-turned-gamekeeper scenarios, but what happens when the poacher buys the gamekeeper?

Segway, the US developer of those two-wheeled, electric-powered individual transporters that were, for a very short time, considered more important than the internet but then faded from view, has just been acquired by China-based competitor Ninebot.

There is a certain irony in this. In September last year, Segway sued Ninebot in a patent infringement lawsuit and tried to slap an import ban on its self-balancing two-wheeled electric vehicle.

Inventor Dean Kamen introduced the Segway in 2001 and began selling it to the public in 2002, fired with notions of revolutionising urban transport. He sold it to Summit Strategic Investments two years ago.


Ninebot's move comes after it received €75 million from Xiaomi, China's largest smartphone maker which owns part of the company, and Sequoia Capital.

Segways are popular with police in some cities – they are popular in China, though it's hard to tell whether they are Segway's products or Ninebots, but also in Korea and other countries.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing