Bird (company)

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Bird Rides, Inc.
Founded2017 (2017)
FoundersTravis VanderZanden
HeadquartersSanta Monica, California, US
Area served
United States, Austria, Belgium, France, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland
Footnotes / references

Bird is a dockless scooter-share company based in Santa Monica, California. Founded in September 2017,[2] Bird operates electric scooters in over 100 cities throughout North America, Europe, and Asia,[3] with 10 million rides in its first year of operation.[2]

In 2018, Bird was named one of Time Magazine's 50 Genius Companies,[4] and one of the most sought-after startups in the United States, according to LinkedIn.[5]


Bird was founded in 2017 by Travis VanderZanden, formerly an executive at Lyft and at Uber. It had its Series A round of funding in February 2018, raising $15 million led by Craft Ventures; this was followed by a Series B round in March for $100 million, led by Index Ventures and Valor Equity Partners, and a venture round in May for $150 million from Sequoia Capital,[1][6] becoming the fastest company to ever reach the $1 billion "unicorn" valuation.[7] One month later, in June 2018, Bird raised an additional $300 million, valuing the company at $2 billion. [8]


Most of their scooters in their fleet are obtained from either the Chinese manufacturers Ninebot (Segway ES2 or ES4) or Xiaomi (MI series M365).[9][10][11] The Xiaomi M365 can obtain speeds up to 25 km/h (16 mph) with a range of 30 kilometres (19 miles) using a 36V 7800mAh lithium ion battery pack.[12][13] In October 2018, Bird announced the development of its own scooter model, described as the industry's first electric scooter specifically designed for ridesharing.[14][15]


Bird scooters are charged by gig workers, private contractors, who sign up to be "chargers"; the company sends them charging equipment, and pays them between $3 and $20 to charge the scooters overnight, then place them at designated "nests" throughout the service area in the morning. Charging can become competitive, with chargers using vans to pick up scooters all over the city.[16] Given the widely-distributed nature of the scooters, this kind of charging system is essential to making the economics of the system work.[17]

Some economists say[according to whom?] that the system used by companies such as Bird and Lime exploits gig workers since it passes many of the expenses that are usually handled by companies on to the workers, such as taxes, benefits (or lack of), and expenses for wear and tear on vehicles, reducing their earnings for the time spent less than minimum wage for some chargers, especially when more new people start competing for the same number of scooters in a given area.[18]

The amount of money that Bird gives the independent contractors for charging a particular scooter is dependent on how long the scooter had been sitting out on the street after being flagged for needing a charge and before the charger reflags the scooter in an app to claim the bounty. A typical bounty issued is usually between $5 and $6 per scooter. A few dishonest chargers have been known[according to whom?] to capture and illegally store the scooters until the bounty reach the $20 maximum before claiming the bounty and releasing the charged scooters. Chargers also lose 50% of their bounties if they fail to return fully charged scooters by their 7a.m. deadline and enter the information into an app. For some people, work as a charger is not very lucrative.[who?] Once the bounty is claimed, the contractor is responsible for the scooter until it is returned to a drop off point and checked in. If the scooter is not properly checked in or goes "missing", the contractor could be fired and have the value of the scooter deducted. A fully discharged scooter may take as long as 5 hours to recharge. Contractors need to pay Bird $10 a piece for each charging unit.[19][20]

In September 2018, the minimum amount that Bird paid chargers in Kansas City dropped from $5 to $3 per scooter, which made it harder for contractors in that area to maintain a certain income level.[21]

Bird tries to catch dishonest contractors via GPS by looking for large accumulations of scooters in non-public areas, such as in private homes and basements or in the backs of pick-up trucks and vans.[22] During one week in July 2018, Bird terminated contracts with between 60 to 70 chargers who were caught cheating just in San Jose alone.[23]

Some criminals have used scooters, especially ones with high bounties, as bait to lure charging contractors into dangerous areas so that the contractors could be robbed.[24][25]

In some areas, competition between rival contractors have resulted in violence[23] and in at least one case had involved firearms.[26][27] A contractor in Santa Monica regularly wears a bulletproof vest and carries pepper spray when he is out collecting scooters.[28] An experienced woman charger recommends that women chargers should not work alone and that they should "keep [their] phone fully charged, and always bring mace, a gun, or a knife just in case."[21][undue weight? ]


Conflicts with municipal and other local authorities[edit]

The company launched its scooters in San Francisco without obtaining the appropriate permits. After the city filed a cease and desist order in June 2018, Bird scooters were temporarily removed from San Francisco.[29]

Bird tends to enter new markets without first informing municipal and other local authorities of its intent to start operations in a jurisdiction. This has meant that local regulatory agencies are often playing catch up, trying to formulate new rules that would properly protect residents without hindering the new service. In many cities, Bird has been fined for operating a business without a license, failure to follow various business zoning laws, or for allowing parked scooters to accumulate outside of designated area in such a way that would block sidewalks.[30][31][32][33][34][35][undue weight? ][excessive citations] In some cases, Bird was cited under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for not allowing persons with disabilities proper access to sidewalks.[35]

A San Francisco Supervisor called the company executives "a bunch of spoiled brats"[36] and a Milwaukee Alderman said that the executives take "a very defiant position they’re taking as if laws don’t matter, they don’t apply to us, we’re going to do what we please, when we please."[37]

Illegal parking[edit]

The company's business model encourages illegal parking: Unlike car rental agencies, Bird does not pass impound fees and parking tickets to customers who illegally park their rental scooter, so there are no financial incentives for a scooter customer to look for a legal parking spot. A charge of $0.15 per minute might even be enough incentive for a customer to simply abandon the scooter immediately outside of their destination, without regards to other pedestrians.[38]

Vandalism to abandoned scooters[edit]

The scooters have become a target of vandalism.[when?]People in San Francisco have been throwing the scooters into trees, or even the San Francisco Bay. Some vandals have even gone to the extreme of smearing the scooters with feces.[39] In Southern California, the scooters were found at the bottom of canals and in interlocked mounds 10 feet (3.0 m) high.[40] There have been websites created to document the most creative vandalism that have been performed on the scooters.[41]

Communities impounding scooters[edit]

Since the scooters have become a sidewalk hazard to pedestrians in many cities in which the scooters are abandoned in the middle of a sidewalk in such a way that it would become an obstacle for the people using wheelchairs or parents with baby strollers, many cities, such as Birmingham, Alabama;[42] Tuscaloosa, Alabama;[43] Beverly Hills, California;[44] Santa Cruz, California;[45] San Francisco, California,[46] Santa Monica, California;[44] Denver Colorado;[47] Bloomington, Indiana;[48] Speedway, Indiana;[49] West Lafayette, Indiana;[50] Somerville, Massachusetts;[51] Ann Arbor, Michigan;[52] East Lansing, Michigan;[53] Columbia, Missouri;[54] Upper Arlington, Ohio;[55] Norman, Oklahoma;[56] Stillwater, Oklahoma;[57] Nashville, Tennessee;[58] Austin, Texas;[59] San Antonio, Texas;[60] Norfolk, Virginia;[61] Richmond, Virginia;[62] Virginia Beach, Virginia;[63] and Milwaukee, Wisconsin[64] have begun impounding the scooters.[undue weight? ][excessive citations]


Bird expanded overseas into France and Israel in August 2018,[65] and later into Belgium[66] and Austria[67] the following month.

In October 2018, Bird entered the Mexican marketplace by expanding into Mexico City, [68][69] and also entered Switzerland by releasing scooters in Zurich.[70][71] During the same month, Bird announced plans to expand into Brazil.[68]

In November 2018, Bird started a test trial in London in the United Kingdom by the introduction of electric scooters for restricted use within Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is considered as private property. Under current laws, electric scooters are not considered to be street legal under the UK Road Traffic Act 1988 and cannot be ridden on public streets. At the same time, electric scooters cannot be ridden on public footpaths or pavement (known as sidewalks in the United States) under the Highway Act 1835. [72]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bird". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  2. ^ a b "Bird Marks One Year Anniversary with 10 Millionth Environmentally-friendly Ride". Bird.
  3. ^ "Map - Bird". Bird. Retrieved 2018-11-18.
  4. ^ "Bird Is One of TIME's 50 Genius Companies 2018". Time Magazine.
  5. ^ "LinkedIn Top Startups 2018: The 50 most sought-after startups in the U.S." LinkedIn.
  6. ^ Zaleski, Olivia (2018-05-29). "Bird Races to Become the First Scooter Unicorn". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  7. ^ "Bird is the fastest startup ever to reach a $1 billion valuation". Quartz.
  8. ^ "Scooter Startup Bird Doubles Valuation to $2 Billion in 4 Months". Inc.
  9. ^ Shieber, Jonathan (May 11, 2018). "Bird buys more scooters". TechCrunch.
  10. ^ "User Manuals" (PDF). Bird Rides.
  11. ^ "This is Who Makes Bird, Lime and Jump Scooters?—?Review". Tech We Want. October 21, 2018.
  12. ^ Rosa, Felicity (July 18, 2017). "The Xiaomi M365 Electric Scooter - speed, battery life & operation". GearBest.
  13. ^ "Mi Electric Scooter Specs". Xiaomi.
  14. ^ "Bird Zero". Bird.
  15. ^ "Bird unveils Bird Delivery and new Bird Zero scooter". Michigan Chronicle.
  16. ^ Lorenz, Taylor (2018-05-20). "Electric Scooter Charger Culture Is Out of Control". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  17. ^ Kamps, Haje Jan (2018-04-10). "How to understand the financial levers in your business". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  18. ^ Spencer, Keith A. (May 6, 2018). "Scooter race to the bottom: Three scooter companies, one exploitative labor model: Rather than use employees to recharge their scooters, three companies pay small per-scooter bounties to freelancers". Salon.
  19. ^ Madriaga, Mike (July 11, 2018). "You won't get rich charging Bird scooters either". San Diego Reader.
  20. ^ Buckley, Nathanael (May 22, 2018). "I spent two weeks trying to charge electric scooters for extra cash. What I got was a lot of headaches". Slate Magazine.
  21. ^ a b Ryan, Kelsey (November 8, 2018). "Life as a Bird bounty hunter in Kansas City: The scooter chase". Kansas City Pitch.
  22. ^ Lesiv, Anna-Sofia (July 10, 2018). "The cutthroat turf war behind the race to charge Bay Area electric scooters". Seattle Times.
  23. ^ a b Lesiv, Anna-Sofia (July 9, 2018). "There's a cutthroat turf war behind the race to charge Bay Area scooters". San Jose Mercury News.
  24. ^ Morris, David Z. (May 20, 2018). "Charging Electric Scooters Is a Profitable, Fun—and Occasionally Dangerous—Youth Trend". Fortune Magazine.
  25. ^ Lorenz, Taylor (May 20, 2018). "Electric Scooter Charger Culture Is Out of Control: "Bird hunting" has become a pastime and a side hustle for teens and young professionals, but for some it's a cutthroat business". The Atlantic.
  26. ^ "Memphis woman pulls gun during fight over scooters". WKRC-TV. September 1, 2018.
  27. ^ Moore, Linda A. (August 31, 2018). "Memphis woman charged in clash over Bird scooters, police say". Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  28. ^ Shen, Lucinda (October 19, 2018). "Inside the Wild West of Scooter Chargers". Fortune Magazine.
  29. ^ Said, Carolyn; Sernoffsky, Evan (2018-06-05). "Bye-bye, SF scooters as Bird, Lime and Spin go on hiatus". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  30. ^ Bradshaw, Tim (February 2, 2018). "Regulators in a flap over Bird Rides, the scooter rental start-up: Santa Monica hire service is taking off — but not everyone is happy". Financial Times.
  31. ^ Cava, Marco della & Guyn, Jessica (June 21, 2018). "In the Scooter Wars of 2018, it's not really about the scooters". USA Today.
  32. ^ Brustein, Joshua (April 18, 2018). "Cities frustrated as startups scoot around municipal vehicle laws". Toronto Star.
  33. ^ King, Nicole E. (August 29, 2018). "Letter to Bird Rides, Inc". City of Birmingham, Alabama.
  34. ^ Ruemelin, Steve (August 6, 2018). "City of Charleston Sends Cease and Desist Letter to Bird Rides, Inc". City of Charleston, South Carolina.
  35. ^ a b "City Issues Cease & Desist Letter To Bird Scooters". City of Fresno, California. September 7, 2018.
  36. ^ Lee, Nicole (April 19, 2018). "Silicon Valley's scooter scourge is coming to an end: The scooters aren't going away, but they will be more regulated". Engadget.
  37. ^ Moreno, Ivan (July 12, 2018). "Cities grappling with how to deal with electric scooters". Chicago Sun Times.
  38. ^ Said, Omar (February 22, 2018). "Bird's efforts to respect laws and enhance user safety are not enough". Daily Bruin. Bird riders are incentivized to break these rules because students can park their scooters anywhere and have little incentive to walk them.
  39. ^ Emerson, Sarah (April 24, 2018). "San Francisco Is Fighting the Scooter Trend With Poop and Vandalism: After years of being a testbed for startups, San Francisco is fighting back by literally smearing shit on scooters". Vice Magazine.
  40. ^ Newberry, Laura (August 10, 2018). "Fed-up locals are setting electric scooters on fire and burying them at sea". Los Angeles Times.
  41. ^ Blocker, Jack (July 25, 2018). "There's an Entire Instagram Account Devoted to Destroying Rideshare Scooters: The account Bird Graveyard features footage of the scooters getting burned, thrown off buildings, pooped on, and tossed into the ocean". Vice Magazine.
  42. ^ Edgemon, Erin (September 10, 2018). "Birmingham kicks Bird out of the nest: City impounding scooters, fining company". Birmingham News.
  43. ^ Gauntt, Joshua (August 25, 2018). "Bird scooter company found operating without license in Tuscaloosa". WBRC.
  44. ^ a b Haskell, Josh (July 25, 2018). "Santa Monica increases enforcement on motorized scooters as Beverly Hills bans them". KABC-TV.
  45. ^ Men, Calvin (September 17, 2018). "Bird scooters impounded by Santa Cruz, following cease and desist order". Santa Cruz Sentinel.
  46. ^ Sulek, Julia Prodis (April 17, 2018). "San Francisco impounds electric scooters, execs called 'spoiled brats'". San Jose Mercury News.
  47. ^ Kenney, Andrew (October 10, 2018). "Denver scooter fight ends with Bird's promise to pay $27,150 in fines: The city impounded hundreds of scooters in June". Denver Post.
  48. ^ McGerr, Patrick (October 4, 2018). "IU Impounds Almost 150 Electric Scooters For Improper Parking". WFIU.
  49. ^ Milz, Mary (October 12, 2018). "Bird scooters migrate to Speedway and land in impound". WTHR.
  50. ^ Upshaw, Micah (September 11, 2018). "Caged Birds: Electronic scooters impounded by WLPD". WLFI-TV.
  51. ^ Borchers, Callum (August 3, 2018). "Bird Refuses To Back Down, As Somerville Seizes Electric Scooters". WBUR-FM.
  52. ^ Stanton, Ryan (September 18, 2018). "Ann Arbor confiscates, locks up Bird scooters deployed at UM". Booth Newspapers.
  53. ^ Lacy, Eric (October 2, 2018). "'At least 100' Bird scooters impounded by Michigan State University police". Lansing State Journal.
  54. ^ Bold-Erdene, Javkhlan (October 31, 2018). "Birds in a Cage: MU Has Impounded 20 Bird Scooters Since August". Columbia Missourian.
  55. ^ Landers, Kevin (August 9, 2018). "Upper Arlington impounds Bird scooters left on the street". WBNS-TV.
  56. ^ Maetzold, William (September 12, 2018). "Norman begins impounding Bird scooters". KOKH-TV.
  57. ^ "OSU Enacts Ban on Motorized Rental Scooters". The O'Colly. October 15, 2018.
  58. ^ Garrison, Joey (June 7, 2018). "Bird agrees to suspend operations in Nashville, wait for scooter regulations". Nashville Tennessean.
  59. ^ Rodriguez, Candy (April 13, 2018). "City of Austin impounds 55 dockless electric scooters this month". KXAN-TV.
  60. ^ Nowlin, Sanford (August 15, 2018). "San Antonio Has Removed More Than 100 Dockless Scooters Blocking Rights-of-Way". San Antonio Current.
  61. ^ Poulter, Amy (October 3, 2018). "Norfolk has impounded 400 Bird scooters. So far". The Virginian-Pilot.
  62. ^ Robinson, Mark (August 16, 2018). "UPDATE: Richmond shutting down unsanctioned scooter share system". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  63. ^ Parker, Stacy (October 3, 2018). "Virginia Beach starts cracking down on Bird scooters". The Virginian-Pilot.
  64. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (August 1, 2018). "Milwaukee may start impounding Bird scooters on Saturday". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  65. ^ Keane, Sean (August 1, 2018). "Bird's scooters roll into Paris, Tel Aviv in first international expansion: The California scooter-sharing startup has come to Europe". CNET.
  66. ^ "Bird launches electric scooter sharing in Brussels". The Bulletin (Brussels weekly). September 18, 2018.
  67. ^ "Bird landete in Wien: E-Scooter-Sharing-Service aus den USA startete als erster Anbieter in Wien" [Bird landed in Vienna: E-scooter sharing service from the USA started as the first provider in Vienna.]. Media Net (in German). September 24, 2018.
  68. ^ a b Hawkins, Andrew J. (October 5, 2018). "Bird scooters roll into Mexico City and Brazil New: First Latin American foray for dockless scooters". The Verge.
  69. ^ Somerville, Heather (October 6, 2018). "Startup company Bird launches electric scooters in Mexico City". El Universal (Mexico City).
  70. ^ Güntert, Andreas (September 26, 2018). "Das kalifornische E-Scooter-Startup Bird gründet Niederlassung in der Schweiz" [The Californian e-scooter startup Bird founds branch in Switzerland]. Handelszeitung (in German). Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  71. ^ "Bird bietet in Zürich neu 60 E-Trottinetts an" [Bird now offers 60 electric scooters in Zurich]. 20 Minuten (in German). October 19, 2018.
  72. ^ "Electric scooter hire is coming to the UK under a deal struck by $2 billion startup Bird". Business Insider. November 6, 2018.

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