The micro mobility market is getting a great deal of attention and growing piles of investor cash. To wit, Bird Rides, offering a “dockless electric scooter sharing service” provides a worthwhile look at brand building in 2018.
I became aware of Bird via a friend working in this space. I was curious about their brand and awareness building methods. That said, their initial $15M of capital, supplemented by a $100M “Series B” round certainly offers a deep pocket.
March 6, 2018, Joanna Goddard:
This year, we also discovered Bird Scooters, the new shared electric scooters. Have you tried them? They’re scattered around the sidewalks; you unlock one with an app, ride it to your destination (for a couple dollars), and then just lock and leave it wherever. Alex and I rode them to dinner one night, and it felt so fun and freeing!
March 1, 2018 Ojai Valley Inn Instagram mention.
March 6, 2018: Bob Lefsetz:
I saw two on my walk to the grocery store. All I had to do was scan the QR code and away I’d go.
But I didn’t.
They say that California is passe. That it’s too expensive to live here. That we have Blue Stateitis. Used to be California was a paradise, a Garden of Eden, the final destination. Now, if you pay attention to the media, it’s a disaster.
But it’s not.
Everything cool still starts in California. Can you say TESLA? Can you say APPLE? Can you say BIRD?
Huh, what’s a Bird?
It’s a motorized scooter.
But it’s not one of those RAZRs, it’s not for kids, it’s for adults, and a couple of months ago everywhere you were in Santa Monica you started to see people riding down the sidewalks, as if they were getting their trips for free, as if the sidewalk was the new Disneyland, WHAT WAS GOING ON?
First and foremost, Bird didn’t ask permission. You cannot ask permission in today’s world. You do your business and then you pay the penalty, assuming you’ve got any traction at all. We learned this from Napster. And the funny thing is the violators are the enemy until they’re embraced. They’ll sue you and then befriend you. Kinda strange, but that’s the way it is.
So they litter Bird scooters everywhere. And you can pull up the app and find one, or bump into one, and when you’re ready to ride, you scan the code with your phone and pay a buck plus 15 cents a minute. But this is not a monetary proposition, this is about pushing your own personal envelope, are you ready to take a risk?
Now the one thing you’ll notice is helmets are required but no one ever wears one, even though Bird will send you one for free, FOR FREE I TELL YOU! Because people think they’re immune, it’s the same kind of thinking that has folks refusing to buckle up when they’re close to home, as if that protects them from being injured. You don’t want a brain injury, it’s worse than any broken bone, but since the scooters only go 15 MPH, people somehow think they won’t fall, or that drivers will act responsibly.
Yes, you’re supposed to stay in the road or on the bike lane, but no one ever does, everybody’s on the sidewalk.
And it seems like a novelty until you think… It’s about the last mile. Getting from public transportation to your front door.
March 9, 2018, Jonathan Shieber:
“It feels like investing in Uber when it first launched.”
That’s what one investor said of the hot new Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup, Bird — an electric scooter company that’s now in the process of raising as much as $100 million on a $300 million valuation, according to several people with knowledge of the company’s plans.
Bird, which has become a phenomenon in the Los Angeles neighborhoods where it’s available, shares a lot with America’s most valuable ride-hailing and logistics company.
The company was founded by a former Uber (and Lyft) executive, Travis VanderZanden, who (like his namesake) is no stranger to controversy. Lyft sued him for allegedly breaking a confidentiality agreement when Uber hired him and the two sides later settled for undisclosed terms.
Like Uber, Bird has also rolled out its services with little regard for the regulations imposed by the neighborhoods in which it operates. When TechCrunch first reported on the company’s $15 million raise less than a month ago, we noted that the company had surreptitiously put 1,000 of its electric scooters on the streets — to the delight of the 50,000 people who have taken 250,000 rides on them, and disregarding many laws put in place by the city of Santa Monica.
As a Washington Post article notes, the Santa Monica Police Department has made 281 traffic stops and issued 97 tickets since the beginning of the year and late February — and the coastal, Los Angeles-adjacent city’s fire department has responded to 8 accidents involving Bird’s scooters — seeing injuries to both minors and adults.
February 15, 2018: Matt McFarland:
Since its September 2017 launch, Bird’s system has served more than 50,000 riders who have taken 250,000 trips — more than half of which have been in the last month. It’s since expanded to Venice, California, and some neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Diego. Bird plans to expand to dozens of markets by the end of 2018.
Competitors, backed by Silicon Valley investors, are emerging. Two dockless bikeshare startups, LimeBike and Spin, have announced plans to deploy electric scooters in cities this year.
Meanwhile, another rival, URB-E, has sold thousands of foldable electric scooters to consumers since 2015. The company’s electric scooters range in price from $900 – $2,000.
Late last year, it began renting URB-Es on the University of Southern California’s campus. It plans to launch its own shared service in cities such as San Francisco and New York by the end of the year.
“It took a couple years for the mass market to realize this is not a toy industry or for rich people,” said URB-E CEO Peter Lee. “But this solves an everyday commuter problem, no matter your social class or how much you make. It was seen as a novelty three years ago, but now it’s seen as a necessity.”
Electric scooters have also captured the attention of Mayor Pete Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana. The city, which has limited transit options due to its moderate density, is interested in using them as a way to improve transportation access. South Bend was one of the first to embrace dockless bikeshare systems, which allow people to park rented bikes on public land.
March 9, 2018, Tim Bradshaw:
Since it launched in September, Bird’s app-based rental system has become hugely popular in areas of Los Angeles such as Santa Monica and Venice, where hundreds of scooters are available on the street for anyone to pick up and drop off.
Hire of the scooters, which resemble the Razor and Micro kick scooters popular with children but have an electric motor that can go up to 15mph, is charged by the minute, with the devices tracked by GPS. More than half a million rides on Bird were taken in the past 30 days, the company says, doubling over the previous month.
“We believe Bird is writing the next chapter in transportation and is poised to become the next great company in this space,” said Antonio Gracias of Chicago-based Valor, who also sits on the boards of Tesla and SpaceX.
Nonetheless, $100m is an unusually large sum for such a young business. By way of comparison, Uber raised about $37m in its Series B round in December 2011, according to Crunchbase, 18 months after it first launched its car-booking app.
A much smaller, but interesting example: The Ojai Valley in.
February 16, 2018 Em_Henderson
March 1, 2018 cupofjo
March 2, 2018 thebalancedblonde
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