We previously reported on the scooter startup Bird receiving a valuation of $2 billion, after having raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation just a few weeks ago. Their competition Lime raised an additional $250 million. Bird was valued at $300 million in a financing round earlier in 2018, just to put things in perspective. Bird, which only began operation in 2017, has been flooding the sidewalks of major American metropolises, alongside other operators such as Lime and Spin.
Scooter startups continue to skyrocket, so here is a short update on what has happened since Bird’s valuation.
1. Google invested in Lime
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, as well as GV, Alphabet’s venture-investment arm, have joined $335 million funding round for electric-scooter start-up Lime. Lime, which was founded a year ago, has raised $382 million in funding, and is valued at $1.1 billion once the round closes.
2. So did Uber
Along with Google Ventures, Lime confirmed that Uber was involved in the same funding round. The ride-hailing company additionally plans to partner with Lime to start renting scooters through its app. “Our investment and partnership in Lime is another step towards our vision of becoming a one stop shop for all your transportation needs,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of new modalities, said in an emailed statement. “Lime already has an expansive footprint, and we’re excited to incorporate their scooters into the Uber app so consumers have another fast, affordable option to get around their city, especially to and from public transit.” (via Cnet)
3. Trump’s Trade War might still make scooter startups stumble
Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods are set to go into effect, which could mean an increase in prices for the scooters themselves, as most of the scooters (retailing for $500) are made by Chinese electronics company Xiaomi. The second round of tariffs doesn’t have an implementation date yet, but it could impose a 25% tax on products such as the scooters used by Bird.
4. Bird Hunting: A Cut-throat Business?
The Atlantic reported on teens and young adults using the need for the scooters to be recharged as an opportunity to earn some pocket money, calling themselves “bird hunters” or “chargers”. Nick Abouzeid, a 21-year-old charger in San Francisco, compares the charging process to a game: “Charging scooters for Bird is like Pokémon Go, but when you get paid for finding Pokémon”. However, theft and hoarding has become a small problem, and criminals and pickpockets have also begun to recognize Bird hunters as prime targets, using the scooters to lure bird hunters to isolated areas.
5. Lime launches in Paris
If the scooter bubble bursts in the state, there is always the continent to return to: Lime launched their scooters in Paris at the end of June, with staff picking them up at night and charging them. With nearly a million users of its scooters and e-bikes in 60 US cities, Lime wants to be in more than 25 European cities by the end of the year. (Via The Guardian)