Segway Glides Towards IPO?

from the chicken-and-egg-problem dept

The Segway was one of the most hyped products of the last decade -- getting a ridiculous amount of attention before almost anyone knew what it was. For months, people guessed about this mysterious device that would change the way cities were built, according to some of the early buzz. Of course, with so much hype, it's no wonder that the actual launch of the device seemed anti-climatic. While they still get some buzz, that doesn't mean there's much of a real business there, as evidenced by the constantly rotating cast of characters who fill the executive chairs at the company -- each with a different strategy to try to build more of a business out of the buzz. Apparently, the latest CEO has his own strategy. theodp writes "Segway's new CEO tells the AP he was brought in to bring the company to a liquidity event, which could solve a chicken-and-egg problem: Segway won't be widely accepted until its price comes down, but its price can't come down until it's produced on a much larger scale." Making an effort to increase economies of scale to decrease price makes sense -- but it's not at all clear how going public actually solves that issue. Producing a lot more doesn't make any sense if there aren't going to be any buyers -- and if there really would be buyers it doesn't necessarily mean an IPO is necessary when private investors might be willing to pump in money for growth. It sounds more like a weak excuse for previous investors who want to figure out a way to get at least some return on their shares.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. identicon
    Shohat, May 30th, 2006 @ 3:36am


    IPO means more money , and this money could be used as a buffer during the production cycles when many units are produced for a cheaper price , but demand has't cought up yet .
    I'd buy a Segway for around 350$ , maybe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Ben, May 30th, 2006 @ 5:23am

    Re: Ahem

    350 dollars? No way in h@## its going to come down to that price, pardon my language but the cheapest the Segway will ever get is maybe 500 - 1000 dollars. No less than any other motored vehicle is how I see it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Silly idea..., May 30th, 2006 @ 5:47am


    The reason people arn't buying the Segway is because it is for all intensive purposes useless to most people.

    Too big bulky and dangerous to ride on a sidewalk- too small and fragile to ride on a road- can't handle steps well- and cannot go offroad.

    There is really little use for Segways- they're really just an overpriced toy.

    Yeah- I know, some loyal user is going to burn me saying how much he loves his Segway- but for 99.9% of the population they are useless- and there are better alternatives to just about every application to which a Segway can be used.

    It's a toy not a transportation device. I doubt they would get much of a market even if the price dropped to $500.

    $100 they might get some kids that want one instead of a bicycle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Toy Guy, May 30th, 2006 @ 6:02am

    It's not just silly...

    I have to agree with Sill idea, the Segway is just a toy.

    The issue with the IPO isn't just who will buy, but who will invest. I'm a huge toy junkie and an investor, but I can't see myself ever buying a Segway no matter what the price nor can I see myself investing in a company that produeces them.

    It's not just a silly idea, it simply doesn't make sense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Doctor CReek, May 30th, 2006 @ 6:23am

    Anyone remember....

    The Sinclair C5.

    They were saying what you guys are saying now 20 years ago.

    Untill there down to at least £300 ($550)
    And there illegal over here in britan for use on the roads or the pavement. so Segway UK is pretty much screwed. otherwise i use one round london but then again i can't see myself getting it on the tube very well.

    I think segway need to get back to the drawing board. work something new out.

    Meanwhile i'm going to buy 5 now. then wait a few years untill they become retro novety items. Then watch the cash reel in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    james, May 30th, 2006 @ 6:27am


    The Segway (or Ginger as she was onced called) is less usefull and probably has a smaller market then the wheelchair (iBOT) that shares the technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Jeff, May 30th, 2006 @ 7:13am

    Why stand up?

    Seriously, why would I want to stand up in a wheelchair? Wouldn't riding around in an electric wheelchair be more comfortable? We should see some electric wheelchair city tours. I guess you can see better since you stand taller than normal... but I can just stop the wheelchair then stand up when I need to see something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Topher3105, May 30th, 2006 @ 7:19am

    Who's buying these things?

    If your going IPO, then you have to at least be making a profit, and I doubt Segway is making any.

    I haven't seen these things revolutionize urban transportation the way they were hyped up about, and the only people I have seen give a rats ass about them are yuppie executive offers that think they are cool and young driving their 50 year old ass around the office on one.

    As much as the technology is cool and the concept sound, the arrogance of the company in believing this is anything more then a child's scooter is astounding.

    I will invest in Segway the moment they sign a deal with Toys R Us to market this for children. For kids, this will be a HUGE market. For adults, this is a novelty item that will never be a success.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Ken, May 30th, 2006 @ 7:28am

    Already a better option

    There's already a high-quality, reasonably-priced electric vehicle - the Ego2 from

    $1200, I've had one for 2 years in a large city and I've managed to cut my automobile usage down to 2500 miles a year. The Ego2 costs about 8 cents to recharge, can carry 300 pounds, and is street legal.

    I use my Ego2 daily, to commute (6 miles each way), shop, and just for fun. With gas prices high and heading higher, there's a need for a reasonable alternative. Ego should be selling a million of these a year, but people are too wedded to their SUVs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Mikester, May 30th, 2006 @ 8:32am

    Build it, and they can't buy any?

    They can mass produce all the Segways they want and drive the price down to $100. It still won't help them because there's a third piece of the puzzle missing from the equation. That being the street legality of these motorized vehicles which is what they are.
    Until all states and provinces make these legal for street use, no one is going to waste $5000 or $500 on something they're only allowed to use in their driveway.
    Regulations vary between municipalities, states and provinces. That IPO money should be going to lobbying the governments to make these street legal in places they are not currently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    SmartGuy, May 30th, 2006 @ 9:15am

    Well, well, well...

    Remember that movie called the "Blaire Witch Project?" It did extremely well for a no-low budget film. Why? because it was hyped up way before it was ever released. Once I saw it, I thought "O.K. what this is it?" a bunch of grainy, poorly- lit, closup shots of nothing but trees, piles of rocks, and an abandoned house. It didn't scare me at all!

    The Segway is the same thing. Looks like the company tried to create a need, hype it up and sell millions thereby forever changing transportation as we know it.

    Yeah right! It's lame! There is no true need for the contraption. Wheel chairs and electric scooters for those who need them. Scooters, bicycles, skateboards, minibikes, and pogo sticks for the kids.

    So where exactly does this standalone device fit? Nowhere really. Think about it. If I have to stand in order to move well then just move my legs and keep going. It's free, good for you, and fun for the whole family!

    I wonder if I can start my own IPO on that information alone!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Junyo, May 30th, 2006 @ 9:27am

    The problem is the same as the problem for any new transportation device; infrastructure. We have a urban transportation infrastructure built around two forms of conveyance; pedestrian traffic and higher speed/capacity wheeled traffic. Anything else is a square peg trying to fit a round hole. Segway pinned a lot of it's promise on the fact that it was so brilliant that municipalities would change their laws and allow it on the sidewalks (they did spend a lot of money lobbying), which a) hasn't really happened, b) even if it had happened doesn't address the tons of city and semi-rural areas without sidewalks, and c)ignores the basic social ackwardness of riding a foot above the rest of the traffic on the sidewalk. And once they're off the sidewalk and in the street, they're inferior to bicycles, mopeds, motorcyccles and/or cars for almost any application. Hell, you can buy a horse for under $5K, and assuming your job had a lawn that they didn't mind having munched on and you suppiled a water trough, you might still come out better than a Segway. At minimum people won't think you're a douche when they see you on a horse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Erik, May 30th, 2006 @ 10:05am

    I plan on investing all my profits from the Vonage IPO in the Segway offering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Ken, May 30th, 2006 @ 10:47am


    I use a variety of pathways when riding the Ego2. It is street legal, so it's fine to use it on residential streets or any street with a 30 MPH speed limit (top speed for the Ego2 is 24 MPH).

    Of course, I eagerly use bicycle lanes whenever possible. If there is a high-speed boulevard or highway, I ride on the sidewalk, at a reduced speed (about 12 MPH). The Ego2 is only 23" wide, narrower than many bicycles, so it's easy to share the sidewalk with pedestrians.

    If there's no sidewalk, I try to find a different route, using back streets, parking lots, and other cut-throughs. For trips of less than 5 miles, I can usually get there in less time than auto traffic, and parking is never a problem.

    There's also the pure joy of riding the thing - wind in your face and a very quiet belt drive that allows you to hear birds singing, talk to pedestrians in a normal voice, etc. There are also some guilty pleasures like cruising silently through gas stations and smiling at the people who are cursing their $60 fill-ups.

    I also use the Ego2 in my role as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer. It's amazing how much ground I can cover in an hour, and how much I can hear and see when I'm not surrounded by a car. I can also go many places a car can't go, and if i do see suspicious behavior, I can get a lot closer to it before being heard or seen. It's also a great conversation starter, and I've gotten to know dozens of my neighbors through their interest in the Ego2.

    There are thousands of places where the Ego2 would be a perfect compliment to (or even a substitute for) an automobile - inner cities, small towns, college campuses, resort areas..we also trailer the Egos to far locations - state and national parks, historic towns, etc. We took them to Savannah recently and were able to explore all of that beautiful city in one day. And on a 90-degree day, we stayed nice and cool. We got to know the city in a way that just wasn't possible in a car, on foot, or even on bicycles (better range and we didn't reek of sweat when we visited nice restaurants and shops)

    Sorry for the lengthly promo, but IMO the technology to greatly reduce our oil dependence is already here, reasonably-priced, and lots of fun. I'm not associated with egovehicles, just a happy customer. Check it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Curious, May 30th, 2006 @ 12:19pm

    Ego2 IPO?

    Wait, are you a Ego2 rep trying to hype it up for YOUR IPO?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Ken, May 30th, 2006 @ 12:47pm


    No, just a guy who replaced the expense and environmental impact of hundreds of short trips with a reasonable alternative. In 2 years of Ego trips (heh), I've spent maybe $20 in electricity and 1 $18 bicycle tire and tube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Jeff Nolan, May 30th, 2006 @ 1:46pm


    I'm surprised nobody has pointed out that "liquidity event" could just as easily mean sell the company as it could mean IPO. I really don't think any investment bank, even with Kleiner's long reach, would sign up to sell this offering considering the condition the company is in and the high level of disillusionment against the early hype.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    anonymous fucktard, May 30th, 2006 @ 2:22pm

    i love riding my segway while using my bluetooth earpiece and watching my iPod Video!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    mike, May 30th, 2006 @ 8:21pm


    I found it interesting that the segway looked an awful lot like the personal transporters that Mad Magazine claimed would signal the death of western society much like orgies and lion feedings signaled the end of the Roman empire. In the end of that skit
    the fat american was being trampled under the foot of a skinny chinese soldier, hmmm, sounds alarmingly
    prognosticative huh

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Jil, May 31st, 2006 @ 2:59pm


    Well, they are classed as assistive devices and for the disabled who have issues with fatigue they could be helpful. They are a hell of a lot cheaper than electric wheelchairs. As for #7 "why would I want to stand?", sitting in a wheelchair can really affect how people relate to you. Often they assume you are disabled in more ways than just physical.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Richard, Jun 11th, 2006 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Why stand up?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    richard, Jun 11th, 2006 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Well, well, well...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Vitaly, May 29th, 2009 @ 4:52am

    I'd buy for 1000.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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