Bird (company)

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Bird Rides, Inc.
IndustryDockless electric scooter sharing
Founded1 April 2017; 2 years ago (2017-04-01)
Santa Monica, California, United States
FounderTravis VanderZanden
HeadquartersSanta Monica, California, United States
Area served
Europe, Middle East, North America
SubsidiariesScoot
Websitebird.co

Bird is a dockless electric scooter sharing company based in Santa Monica, California. Founded in September 2017,[1] Bird operates electric scooters in over 60 cities throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America[2] with 10 million rides in its first year of operation.[1]

In 2018, Bird was named one of Time Magazine's 50 Genius Companies,[3] and one of the most sought-after startups in the United States, according to LinkedIn.[4]

History[edit]

Bird was founded in September 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,[5][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]

In September 2018, one year from its initial launch, Bird celebrated its 10 millionth ride.[9]

One month later, in October 2018, Bird released details about its new custom-designed vehicle, the Bird Zero. In contrast to its previous generations of electric scooters, which were essentially modified versions of consumer-available vehicles, the company's new Bird Zero vehicle was designed from the ground up with the ride sharing business in mind with "more battery life for longer range, better lighting for increased visibility, and enhanced durability for a longer life-span."[10]

In November 2018, Bird unveiled the Bird Platform, a new program based on the company's mobile app and newly-designed Bird Zero vehicles that allowed independent operators to use Bird's infrastructure to run their own fleet of shared, branded electric scooters.[11]

In January 2019, Bird announced Series C of funding, during which it attracted another $300 million. The total valuation of the company reached $2 billion.[12]

On June 12, 2019, Scoot Networks was acquired for an undisclosed value. Scoot Networks will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Bird.[13][14][15] The deal is expected to be valued around $25 million in a combination of cash and stock. The acquisition of Scoot Networks will allow Bird to officially operate shared electric scooters in San Francisco.

In July 2019, Bird is said to be valued at $2.5 billion.[16] Bird is currently raising Series D funding, which is being led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. Sequoia Capital also helped lead Bird's Series C funding in June 2018.[17]

Usage[edit]

Bird scooter QR code

The user installs the Bird app, on which are displayed all the scooters available (tracked by GPS) nearby. Before starting a trip, the user supplies payment information. The user then scans the QR code on the scooter, beginning the trip. To end the trip, the user must take a photo of the parked scooter to end the ride. The price of the trip is immediately withdrawn from the user's credit card. If any problems were encountered with the trip (like a malfunctioning vehicle) the user can report it through the app.

Operating area and hours[edit]

Bird App

On the Bird app, the user can see the operating area of the service. Riding outside of the operating area is tolerated, but if the user leaves the scooter outside the operating area, they will be charged a fee. The fee changes based on the location. On the map, there are various red zones, in which users are prohibited to park in. If the rider misbehaves, they will incur a fine.

Whilst Bird doesn't have set operating hours, the availability of scooters during nighttime is severely reduced due to the scooters' needs to be recharged every night. Nevertheless, if a user finds a scooter outside during the nighttime, they can still unlock it. Bird operates every day of the week.

Locations[edit]

Bird operates its electric scooters in 65 cities across the globe.[18]

Vehicles[edit]

Bird uses electric scooters for their rental service. The ride sharing company currently uses four different scooter models:

  • Bird Xiaomi M365 made by Xiaomi
  • Bird Ninebot ES2 made by Segway
  • Bird Ninebot ES4 made by Segway
  • Bird Zero made by Bird

Due to the scooters above being a consumer product (except Bird Zero), they are not well-performant in the sharing industry. Therefore, Bird developed their own scooter, the Bird Zero. Their Zero is better optimized for the ride sharing business; extended range, suspension, airless tires, stronger motor and a more durable body. As of July 2019, Bird Zero scooters make up more than 75% of the company's fleets.[17]

Prices[edit]

Generally, in countries where the Euro or the Dollar is used, the price is €/$1 to unlock the scooter, then €/$0.15 per minute. For countries that have different currencies the price may be different. Different cities in one country may have different prices. In Washington, D.C. the Bird app extracts $10 at a time to use for each one of your rides until it runs out.

Competition[edit]

Bird's main competitor is American Lime. Nevertheless, many other smaller dockless electric scooter sharing companies have been funded since Bird's and Lime's arrival, including Scoot Networks and Skip Scooters.[19]

User Collaborations[edit]

Chargers[edit]

Bird scooters are charged by gig workers, private contractors who sign up to become "Juicers"; the company sends approved Juicers charging equipment, and pays them to charge scooters overnight then place them at designated "groves" throughout the company's service area in the morning. Juicing can become competitive, with Juicers in some markets using vans and other creative means to pick up scooters all over the city.[20]

The amount of money that Bird gives the independent contractors for charging a particular scooter depends on how long the scooter has been sitting out on the street after being flagged for needing a charge and before the Juicer reflags the scooter in an app to claim the reward.

Nests[edit]

Bird, in select cities and countries has created special designated parking spaces for Bird scooters. When available, users are strongly encouraged to park there.

Controversy[edit]

Parking[edit]

Since Bird is a dockless electric scooter sharing system, it does not provide parking stations, therefore the scooters can be left almost anywhere. Due to this, the scooters can sometimes be found parked on the sidewalk, in disabled parking spaces, in front of garage entrances, etc. Bird strongly encourages to park responsibly curbside, at its stations or at bike racks.

Prices[edit]

Bird, and many other dockless electric scooter sharing companies, are often criticized for their relatively high prices, especially when compared to public transportation. The companies defend themselves by saying that the cost to buy, charge, and maintain the scooters are high; this is also not considering the research and development to make the service possible (like the app).

Conflict with city governments[edit]

Milwaukee, Wisconsin[edit]

Scooters were initially banned in Milwaukee when Bird Rides Inc. started their scooter business without government permission. Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers signed a bill July 11, 2019 regulating scooters.[21] The Milwaukee Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett banned Bird Scooters from operating in the city and passed an ordinance giving law enforcement permission to impound scooters. They also sued the scooter company.[22]

San Francisco, California[edit]

Bird scooters were banned from San Francisco, California. The city cited safety concerns in 2018. Bird decided to offer its scooters as a monthly rental as a way around their prohibition.[23]

Seattle, Washington[edit]

Seattle, Washington has banned scooter shares, and city law currently bars use of motorized foot scooters on sidewalks and bicycle lanes. [24] Mayor Jenny Burkan announced in May, 2019 that her administration will soon begin crafting a pilot program for scooter share. [25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bird Marks One Year Anniversary with 10 Millionth Environmentally-friendly Ride". Bird.
  2. ^ "Map". Bird. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  3. ^ "Bird Is One of TIME's 50 Genius Companies 2018". Time.
  4. ^ "LinkedIn Top Startups 2018: The 50 most sought-after startups in the U.S." LinkedIn.
  5. ^ "Bird". Crunchbase. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  6. ^ Zaleski, Olivia (May 29, 2018). "Bird Races to Become the First Scooter Unicorn". Bloomberg News. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  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. ^ "Bird Marks One Year Anniversary with 10 Millionth Environmentally-friendly Ride". Bird. September 20, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "Bird Unveils Bird Zero: Custom-Designed e-Scooter for Ridesharing 2.0". Bird. October 4, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  11. ^ "Bird Unveils "Bird Platform" for Independent Operators". Bird. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  12. ^ "E-scooter startup Bird is raising another $300M". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  13. ^ "Bird Acquires Scoot - Scoot to Operate as a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Bird". Scoot. June 12, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  14. ^ Bhuiyan, Sam Dean, Johana. "Bird buys Scoot — and a back door into San Francisco's rental scooter market". latimes.com. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  15. ^ "Bird Buys Competitor Scoot, Further Consolidating the Crowded Scooter-Rental Market". Fortune. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  16. ^ Griffith, Erin (July 22, 2019). "Bird Is Said to Raise New Funding at $2.5 Billion Valuation". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Bird is raising a Series D round led by Sequoia at $2.5 billion valuation". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  18. ^ Bird Cities
  19. ^ "Bird Competitors and Alternatives".
  20. ^ Heffernan, Erin (November 6, 2018). "Inside the scooter side hustle: Charging for Lime and Bird is a new cutthroat gig in St. Louis". Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  21. ^ "Tony Evers signs bill regulating electric scooters". Capital Newspapers Inc. Associated Press, State Journal. July 11, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  22. ^ Janzen, Clara. "City passes ordinance for Milwaukee to impound Bird motorized scooters - but will they?". bizjournals. American City Business Journals. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  23. ^ McFarland,, Matt (May 15, 2019). "Bird scooters got kicked out of San Francisco but found a loophole back in". Cable News Network. CNN Business. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "Seattle embraced dockless bike shares, but bans scooter ones. How come?". The Seattle Times. September 30, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  25. ^ "Electric scooters are coming to Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan says". The Seattle Times. May 9, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2019.

External links[edit]