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Three Bird scooters placed on a sidewalk in San Jose, California
|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California, US|
|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, Bird operates electric scooters in over 100 cities throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, with 10 million rides in its first year of operation.
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, becoming the fastest company to ever reach the $1 billion "unicorn" valuation. One month later, in June 2018, Bird raised an additional $300 million, valuing the company at $2 billion. 
Most of their scooters in their fleet are obtained from either the Chinese manufacturers Ninebot (Segway ES2 or ES4) or Xiaomi (MI series M365). 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. In October 2018, Bird announced the development of its own scooter model, described as the industry's first electric scooter specifically designed for ridesharing.
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. Given the widely-distributed nature of the scooters, this kind of charging system is essential to making the economics of the system work.
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.
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.
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.
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. During one week in July 2018, Bird terminated contracts with between 60 to 70 chargers who were caught cheating just in San Jose alone.
In some areas, competition between rival contractors have resulted in violence and in at least one case had involved firearms. A contractor in Santa Monica regularly wears a bulletproof vest and carries pepper spray when he is out collecting scooters. 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."[undue weight? ]
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.
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.[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.
A San Francisco Supervisor called the company executives "a bunch of spoiled brats" 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."
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.
Vandalism to abandoned scooters
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. In Southern California, the scooters were found at the bottom of canals and in interlocked mounds 10 feet (3.0 m) high. There have been websites created to document the most creative vandalism that have been performed on the scooters.
Communities impounding scooters
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; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Beverly Hills, California; Santa Cruz, California; San Francisco, California, Santa Monica, California; Denver Colorado; Bloomington, Indiana; Speedway, Indiana; West Lafayette, Indiana; Somerville, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; East Lansing, Michigan; Columbia, Missouri; Upper Arlington, Ohio; Norman, Oklahoma; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Nashville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Norfolk, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin have begun impounding the scooters.[undue weight? ][excessive citations]
In October 2018, Bird entered the Mexican marketplace by expanding into Mexico City,  and also entered Switzerland by releasing scooters in Zurich. During the same month, Bird announced plans to expand into Brazil.
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. 
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Bird riders are incentivized to break these rules because students can park their scooters anywhere and have little incentive to walk them.
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