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Bird and Lime are protesting Santa Monica’s electric scooter recommendations

Lime and Bird are protesting recommendations in Santa Monica, Calif. that would prevent the electric scooter companies from operating in the Southern California city. We first saw the news over on Curbed LA,  which reported both Lime and Bird are temporarily halting their services in Santa Monica. Last week, Santa Monica’s shared mobility device selection committee recommended the city move forward with Lyft and Uber-owned Jump as the two exclusive scooter operators in the city during the upcoming 16-month pilot program. The committee ranked Lyft and Jump highest due to their experience in the transportation space, staffing strategy, commitments to diversity and equity, fleet maintenance strategies and other elements. Similarly, the committee recommended both Lyft and Jump as bike-share providers in the city. “The Lyft and Uber applications to operate e-scooter sharing programs in Santa Monica demonstrate the desperate lengths CO2 polluting companies will go to for the purpose of undermining clean energy competition,” a Bird spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We at Bird are dedicated to replacing car trips with clean energy trips and will continue to fight against car dependency alongside our loyal riders.” Santa Monica! We've taken our fleet offline until 4:30pm locally in order to rally your support in opposition to the council's recommendation. Don't let a #LifeWithoutScooters be the future. Help City Hall make the right decision + take action right now: https://t.co/PiuR9pwk4y — Lime (@limebike) August 14, 2018 Now, both Bird and Lime are asking their respective riders to speak out against the recommendations. Bird, which first launched in Santa Monica, has also emailed riders, asking them to tell the city council that they want to Bird to stay. “In a closed-door meeting, a small city-appointed selection committee decided to recommend banning Bird from your city beginning in September,” Bird wrote in an email . “This group inexplicably scored companies with no experience ever operating shared e-scooters higher than Bird who invented this model right here in Santa Monica.” Bird goes on to throw shade at Uber and Lyft — neither of which have operated electric scooter services before. That shade is entirely fair, but one could argue both Uber and Lyft already have more experience operating transportation services within cities and would be better equipped to run an electric scooter service than a newer company. Santa Monica Shared Mobility Selection Committee In addition to asking people to contact their city officials, Bird and Lime are hosting a rally later today at Santa Monica City hall.

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Lime is expanding its low-income program

Lime, the electric scooter and bike-share startup, is expanding its program for people with low incomes. Called Lime Access, the program enables people who qualify for state or federal assistance programs to access Lime’s fleet of vehicles at a discount. Lime first launched the program in May. At the time and up until now, it enabled people to purchase 100 rides on pedal bikes for $5. But starting today, anyone who is eligible for state or federal assistance programs can access traditional pedal bikes at a 95 percent discount and electric bikes and scooters at a 50 percent discount per ride. Those who are eligible can purchase credits via PayNearMe, a cash payment network that lets you pay for items and services from companies in person. Electric scooter competitor  Bird introduced a similar program called One Bird that eliminates the $1 fee to unlock a Bird scooter . Bird has raised $415 million in funding, while Lime has raised $467 million and, as of last month, partnered with ride-hailing giant Uber .

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Tesla’s alleged ‘saboteur’ strikes back with defamation suit

Martin Tripp, the former  Tesla  employee who was fired and then sued by the electric vehicle automaker, has filed a lawsuit, alleging statements made by CEO Elon Musk in recent weeks (many in tweet form) defamed him. Tripp is asking for $1 million in damages from the electric automaker. Tripp, who has hired an Arizona-based law firm, has a GoFundMe page aiming to raise $500,000 to pay for his legal bill. Tripp has raised more than $15,000, according to the GoFundMe page. The filing is the latest blow in a bout between Tesla, Musk and Tripp that kicked off about six weeks ago. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court in Nevada, is Tesla Inc. v. Tripp, 3:18-cv-00296. Here’s a timeline, so saddle up and follow along. June 20:  Tesla  files a lawsuit  against Tripp for $1 million, alleging the man, who worked as a process technician at the massive battery factory near Reno, hacked the company’s confidential and trade secret information and transferred that information to third parties, according to court documents. The lawsuit also claims the employee leaked false information to the media. 24 hours later:  A  combative email exchange  between Musk and Tripp unfolds. Tesla also notifies police based on a tip to its customer service line that Tripp had allegedly told a friend he was going to attack the company’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nev .  Tripp has denied this and the Storey County Sheriff’s department, which investigated, told TechCrunch they found no credible threat

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Bird’s electric scooters are going international

Electric scooter startup Bird, the one worth $2 billion , is going international. This does not come as a surprise given TechCrunch’s June report that Bird was looking to expand to Europe. Today, Bird is launching a pilot program in Paris to see how the electric scooter service operates in a city with more than two million people. “Paris is very forward-thinking on solving congestion issues and is one of the cities that’s dealing with the most congestion and pollution,” Bird Head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa Patrick Studener told TechCrunch. Bird is also gearing up to deploy some scooters in Tel Aviv, where the company says it’s chatting with Tel Aviv University and some municipalities about making something work in those areas, Studener said. In Tel Aviv, Bird will charge 5 shekels to start and then 50 agorot per minute. As Bird expands to international markets, it’s worth noting that competitor Lime has operated its bikes and scooters outside of the U.S. for quite some time. Last December , Lime brought its bikes to a number of European cities and then, in June, Lime brought its scooters to Paris . Lime also recently raised a $335 million round and teamed up with transportation behemoth Uber . In Paris, Bird scooters will cost €1 to start followed by €0.15 per minute, which is exactly how much Lime charges. Bird says Paris city officials know the company is planning to deploy about 100 scooters in the city

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Ex-Tesla worker makes it official and blows the whistle to SEC

The former Tesla employee who was fired and then sued by the electric vehicle automaker has filed a formal whistleblower tip to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company has misled investors and put its customers at risk. Martin Tripp has retained Meissner Associates, a whistleblower, securities, investment  fraud and employment law firm to represent him before the SEC. Tesla did not respond to questions about the whistleblower tip. The filing is the latest blow in a bout between Tesla, its CEO Elon Musk and Tripp. Tesla filed a lawsuit on June 20 against Tripp for $1 million, alleging the man, who worked as a process technician at the massive battery factory near Reno, hacked the company’s confidential and trade secret information and transferred that information to third parties, according to court documents. The lawsuit also claims the employee leaked false information to the media. A mere 24 hours later a combative email exchange between Musk and Tripp emerged. Tesla also notified police based on a tip to its customer service line that Tripp had allegedly told a friend he was going to attack the company’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada .  Tripp has denied this and the Storey County Sheriff’s department, which investigated, told TechCrunch they found no credible threat. Tripp is turning to an attorney with a successful whistleblower track record. The firm obtained a more than $22 million judgment from the SEC on behalf of a Monsanto whistleblower in 2016. Tripp’s whistleblower tip, which was filed July 6, alleges that Tesla knowingly manufactured batteries with punctured holes possibly impacting hundreds of cars on the road; misled the investing public as to the numbers of Model 3s actually being produced each week by as much as 44 percent; and lowered vehicle specifications and systemically used scrap and waste material in vehicles, all so as to meet production quotas, according to a statement from Meissner Associates. Tesla has said in the past that Tripp’s allegations are false and contend that he is not a whistleblower, but someone who hacked and stole confidential information. Tripp says he has been threatened and harassed in the days since he revealed information about Tesla to the media. “Getting the truth out has become a nightmare

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