Tag Archives: electric scooters

What to expect from the return of electric scooters in SF

The time has come. Electric scooter sharing services are returning to the streets of San Francisco — this time with explicit permission from the SF Municipal Transportation Agency. On Monday, we’ll see both Skip and Scoot deploy their respective electric scooters throughout the city. And if you remember what it was like earlier this year, you’ll likely notice that these scooters look different from the ones that were previously scattered throughout the city. In March, a number of electric scooters from Bird, Lime and Spin appeared in San Francisco essentially overnight. That prompted city officials to act quickly, with the SF City Attorney’s office sending cease-and-desist letters , a new city law going into in June restricting electric scooter companies from operating without a permit and, eventually, the SFMTA creating a permitting process. But the permitting process and the decision that resulted did not sit well with companies like Lime and Lyft, which were not granted permits to operate electric scooter services in San Francisco. Toward the end of this week, Lime made clear its intentions to seek to block the deployment of scooters on Monday. A judge, however, denied Lime’s request for the temporary restraining order. Lyft had also petitioned SF Mayor London Breed, asking her to take a look at the SFMTA’s decision. Despite Lyft and Lime’s efforts, the great electric scooter rollout of 2018 is still happening on Monday. Ahead of the official launch, TechCrunch chatted with Scoot CEO Michael Keating and Skip CEO Sanjay Dastoor about their respective rollouts of 625 electric scooters. Scoot CEO Michael Keating at a pre-launch event in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood Given the number of scooters Scoot is allowed to deploy, the company chose a relatively concentrated area in which to deploy them, Keating told me

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SF judge denies Lime’s request to block electric scooter deployment

A judge today denied Lime’s request for a temporary restraining order that would block Skip and Scoot from deploying their electric scooters in San Francisco on Monday. This means San Franciscans will be able to use electric scooter services again first thing next week. Following the SFMTA’s decision to grant Skip and Scoot electric scooter permits,  Lime sent an appeal requesting  the agency reevaluate its application. At the time, the SFMTA said it was “confident” it picked the right companies. Just yesterday, Lime said it believed “that it has no choice but to seek emergency relief in the court” and take legal action. “We’re pleased the court denied Lime’s request for a temporary restraining order,” John Cote, communications director for City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement to TechCrunch. “The bottom line is the judge said he would not stop the permits from being issued on Monday. The SFMTA’s permit program has been both fair and transparent. Lime just didn’t like the outcome. The reality is that Lime’s application fell notably short of its competitors. That’s why it didn’t get a permit. San Franciscans deserve scooter services that are safe, equitable and accountable, which is exactly what this pilot program was designed to do.” While Lime didn’t quite get what it wanted, Lime says it still sees this as a victory. In a statement to TechCrunch, Lime Head of Communications Jack S. Song said: The Honorable Harold E

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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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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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Bird and Skip secure Portland e-scooter permits and there’s already drama

Electric scooter startups Bird and Skip have landed permits to operate in Portland under a new pilot program that aims to gauge how the controversial form of micro-transportation will fit in the city. And already there’s a bit of drama, or call it skeptical-scooter feelings, scuttling about. The permits issued by Portland Bureau of Transportation will run until November 20, when the pilot program is set to end. Scooters could be available for rent as soon as this week, PBOT officials said. The PBOT will conduct an evaluation of the program and survey Portlanders to determine whether scooters are compatible with the safe, efficient and equitable operation of Portland’s transportation system, the department said. And while the official line from PBOT is neutral, there’s at least one staffer whose snarky tweet suggests that the scooters are something more repugnant: just another toy for tech bros. It all started after PBOT tweeted a PSA about the rules for scooters. In response, one person wrote, “Instead of preemptively shaming and chastising e-scooter users PBOT should be bending over backwards to encourage this alternative. I would like @PBOTinfo staff to reread the climate action plan, bike plan, and comp plan to come to grips with the magnitude of their failure.” Instead of preemptively shaming and chastising e-scooter users PBOT should be bending over backwards to encourage this alternative. I would like @PBOTinfo staff to reread the climate action plan, bike plan, and comp plan to come to grips with the magnitude of their failure. — unrepentant utopian (@sorenimpey1) July 26, 2018 A staffer within PBOT wasn’t too pleased and posted this retort. “Or maybe they’re toys that tech bros leave strewn about, blocking corner ramps needed for people with disabilities. Also, people need to know the helmet laws for scooters are different than for bicycles

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Shared electric scooters probably won’t return to SF until August

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is still reviewing the 12 applications from companies to operate electric scooters in the city. In early June, companies like Uber, Lime, Bird, Lyft and others applied for permits to operate electric scooter-share services in San Francisco . San Francisco’s permit process came as a result of Bird, Lime and  Spin  deploying their electric scooters without permission in the city in March. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services in San Francisco without a permit. The SFMTA initially said it expected to make a decision about which five, if any, companies would receive permits by the end of June. Well, it’s now July and still no decision. The SFMTA expects to finalize its recommendations and documentation “in the coming weeks,” the SFMTA wrote in a blog post today . Once that’s done, the agency says it will work with companies to finalize and clarify the terms and conditions of the permit. The goal, according to the blog post, is to issue permits sometime in August. As part of the 24-month pilot program, electric scooter companies selected to operate in the city will need to provide user education and insurance, share its detailed trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data, offer a low-income plan and operate in a to-be-approved service area. The city will allow no more than 2,500 electric scooters on the streets at any one time.

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Bird now offers discounts to people with low incomes

Bird, the scooter startup that has raised more than $400 million in funding, has introduced a program geared toward low-income people in order to increase access to transportation. Called One Bird, the program eliminates the $1 fee to unlock a Bird so that the rider just has to pay 15 cents per minute. “Everyone should have access to transportation that is accessible, affordable, and environmentally-friendly,” Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. “One Bird makes this a reality by providing a way for everyone to ride Birds in their city. We warmly welcome all new riders, and encourage our current eligible riders to enroll in the program, so together we can create a community with fewer cars, less traffic, and reduced carbon emissions.” The program is live in every market where Bird operates, which includes cities like Atlanta, Austin, Santa Monica, Calif. and Washington, D.C. In order to sign up for One Bird, you have to either be enrolled in or eligible for a state or federal assistance program, like CalFresh, Medicaid, SNAP or a discounted utility bill. Eligible people can reach out to one@ bird .co to learn more. Lime, a bike- and scooter-share startup, has a similar program. In May, Lime launched Lime Access to enable people who qualify for state or federal assistance programs to purchase 100 rides on pedal bikes for $5. Increasing access to transportation has long been a talking point for companies like Uber, Lyft, Spin, Lime and Bird. In San Francisco, which still has yet to decide which companies will get to operate scooter services in the city, the Municipal Transportation Agency has asked companies to outline how they each plan to support people in low-income communities. For Bird, offering discounted rides appears to be one of its strategies. You can read more about the scooter wars here. Silicon Valley scooter wars

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Electric scooter startup Spin is finalizing a $125 million security token offering

Spin, an electric scooter startup, is raising around $125 million via a blockchain-based security token offering (STO), Axios first reported and TechCrunch has independently learned. Spin, which declined to comment for this story, has previously raised just $8 million. The idea with Spin’s security token offering is to raise money from accredited investors, who will then be entitled to a portion of the revenue from Spin’s electric scooter operations, according to a source close to Spin. Last year, initial coin offerings were the hot thing in the cryptocurrency space. Now, STOs are starting to emerge, given that they provide more security for potential investors. With STOs, investors can buy tokens that are linked to real-world financial instruments. In the case of Spin’s offering, the tokens are linked to its revenue. Spin has been one of the more quiet scooter startups in the industry after announcing its expansion into scooters in February . This comes shortly after electric scooter startup  Bird raised a $300 million round led by Sequoia Capital, and after reports of Lime raising $250 million led by GV . Spin currently has a contract with electric scooter manufacturer Ninebot to purchase 30,000 scooters a month through the end of this year, according to a source. Bird, on the other hand, said in May it inked an exclusive deal with Ninebot for rights to the company’s supply of scooters . Clearly, that’s not true. Spin had previously only operated a bike-share platform. Last August,  Spin brought its stationless  bike-share program to South San Francisco after launching in Seattle earlier that year. Then, in January,  Spin unveiled its stationless electric bike . However, Spin is now solely focused on electric scooters, according to a source close to Spin.

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Bird has officially raised a whopping $300M as the scooter wars heat up

And there we have it: Bird, one of the emerging massively hyped Scooter startups, has roped in its next pile of funding by picking up another $300 million in a round led by Sequoia Capital. The company announced the long-anticipated round this morning, with Sequoia’s Roelof Botha joining the company’s board of directors. This is the second round of funding that Bird has raised over the span of a few months, sending it from a reported $1 billion valuation in May to a $2 billion valuation by the end of June. In March, the company had a $300 million valuation , but the Scooter hype train has officially hit a pretty impressive inflection point as investors pile on to get money into what many consider to be the next iteration of resolving transportation at an even more granular level than cars or bikes. New investors in the round include  Accel, B Capital, CRV, Sound Ventures, Greycroft and e.ventures; previous investors  Craft Ventures, Index Ventures, Valor, Goldcrest, Tusk Ventures and Upfront Ventures are also in the round. (So, basically everyone else who isn’t in competitor Lime .) Scooter mania has captured the hearts of Silicon Valley and investors in general — including Paige Craig, who actually jumped from VC to join Bird as its VP of business  — with a large amount of capital flowing into the area about as quickly as it possibly can. These sort of revolving-door fundraising processes are not entirely uncommon, especially for very hot areas of investment, though the scooter scene has exploded considerably faster than most. Bird’s round comes amid reports of a mega-round for Lime , one of its competitors, with the company reportedly raising another $250 million led by GV, and Skip also raising $25 million . “We have met with over 20 companies focused on the last-mile problem over the years and feel this is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that can have a big impact in the world,” CRV’s Saar Gur, who did the deal for the firm, said. “We have a ton of conviction that this team has original product thought (they created the space) and the execution chops to build something extremely valuable here. And we have been long-term focused, not short-term focused, in making the investment. The ‘hype’ in our decision (the non-zero answer) is that  Bird  has built the best product in the market and while we kept meeting with more startups wanting to invest in the space — we kept coming back to  Bird  as the best company. So in that sense, the hype from consumers is real and was a part of the decision. On unit economics: We view the first product as an MVP (as the company is less than a year old) — and while the unit economics are encouraging, they played a part of the investment decision but we know it is not even the first inning in this market.” There’s certainly an argument to be made for Bird, whose scooters you’ll see pretty much all over the place in cities like Los Angeles

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Silicon Valley scooter wars

Electric scooters have become the hot new area for startups and “innovation.” For those who haven’t been keeping track, there are three main players in the Silicon Valley scooter wars: Bird, Lime and Spin. Bird first launched in Venice, Calif. before expanding into San Francisco in March. It’s worth pointing out that Bird, for now, is strictly an electric scooter company. That’s not the case for Lime and Spin, which both have their own bike-share services deployed throughout various parts of the country and world. That same month — almost in complete lockstep — Lime and Spin deployed their own electric scooters in the city. Fast forward to June and the city of SF has placed a temporary hold on electric scooters until it can review permit applications. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services in SF without a permit. Twelve companies ( Uber/JUMP, Lyft, Skip, Spin, Lime, Scoot, ofo, Skip, Razor, CycleHop, USSCooter and Ridecell) have applied for permits in SF, but the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency will issue permits for no more than five companies during the 24-month pilot program. The program would grant up to 2,500 scooters to operate in total, but it’s not yet clear how many scooters each company would be allowed to deploy. Uber and Lyft’s entrance into the electric scooter space was expected, given that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told me in April that he had his eyes on electric scooters, and Lyft had reportedly been in talks with the SFMTA about its permitting process. But it became more official this past week when both companies applied for permits to operate in SF. Both Uber and Lyft, which have both recently announced public transit integration, are clearly vying to become the one-stop shop for all transportation needs.

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Lime brings electric scooters to LA

While electric scooter startups are at a standstill in San Francisco , Lime is taking its scooter service to Santa Monica, Calif. — competitor Bird’s home turf. Although Lime was planning to launch its new model of scooter that it built in partnership with Segway in San Francisco last month , it’s now debuting them in the Los Angeles area first. These Segway-powered Lime scooters are designed to be safer, longer-lasting via battery power and more durable for what the sharing economy requires, Lime CEO Toby Sun told TechCrunch in May . Now, instead of a maximum distance of 23 miles or so, Lime scooters can go up to 35 miles. “A lot of the features in the past on scooters were made for the consumer market,” Sun said. “Not for the shared, heavy-duty markets.” On the safety side, Lime enhanced its night-light on both the front and back of the scooter, and has added a light to flash below the deck. Lime has also added an additional brake, to have one on both the front and rear wheels. Lime, which also has its pedal-assist electric bikes out and about in the LA area, says this is the first multimodal transportation service in LA. This news comes following reports of Lime raising a $250 million round led by GV . Lime, Bird and Spin have to temporarily remove scooters from SF

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Bird looks to bring scooters to Europe

Scooter startup Bird, which is headquartered in Venice, Calif., is looking to expand into Europe, according to a new job posting. The job is for a general manager based in Europe to lead market management and “raise the opportunities and concerns of the market and set the priorities that will grow Bird in your home country,” the listing states. Responsibilities include “the successful launch of Bird in your home country in Europe” and expanding Bird by “launching new cities within the region.” Another new job listing seeks an executive assistant based in Amsterdam. TechCrunch has also heard Bird has brought on an executive to lead operations in Israel, but Bird says it doesn’t comment on launch plans. Earlier today, Bird authorized a new $200 million funding round that could value the company at around $1 billion post-money . Back in March, Bird expanded beyond Southern California into San Francisco, San Jose and Washington, D.C . The scooter market is on fire right now. Competitor Lime is also reportedly raising $250 million , while ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are also looking to get into electric scooters.

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Scooter startup Lime is reportedly raising $250M led by Uber investor GV

It’s scooters all the way down this morning, with Lime also reportedly raising $250 million in a funding after a new Delaware filing this morning indicated that competitor Bird authorized the sale of up to $200 million in shares . GV (formerly Google Ventures) is leading this round, according to the report by Axios , as the massive land grab for a stake in the scooter wars continues to heat up — whether that’s funding or actual scooters piling up on the sidewalk. Both companies have faced pushback from some city regulators (probably on the basis of tripping over them and falling on your face), but it still means the venture community is still salivating over potentially the next major mode of metropolitan transportation. Most venture investors in the Valley argue scooters make sense for short trips throughout areas that are just too far to be considered a trek, but too close that it would be a waste of time and money to call a rideshare like Uber or Lyft. Given that Uber exposed a massive hole for easier transportation in major metropolitan areas — and potentially replacing cars in those areas — getting into the next big transportation revolution is more than tempting enough for firms like GV (which is also an investor in Uber). Lime was previously reported to be seeking up to $500 million in funding and was taking meetings with some major firms in Silicon Valley over the past few weeks. It might not get that, but a $250 million influx might be plenty to try to continue to ramp up its business and get more rides on board. Axios is reporting that Lime has told investors users have taken 4.2 million rides and each scooter gets 8 to 12 rides per day. Still, while it’s not $500 million, there’s plenty of interest in the on-demand scooter business — challenges of keeping them charged and intact included — that Bird has authorized the sale of up to $200 million in new shares at a $1 billion valuation just months after its previous round. So it might not be surprising if this, too, ends up as kind of a rolling process where Lime eventually gets all the capital it sought.

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Scooter startup Lime is reportedly raising $250M led by Uber investor GV

It’s scooters all the way down this morning, with Lime also reportedly raising $250 million in a funding after a new Delaware filing this morning indicated that competitor Bird authorized the sale of up to $200 million in shares . GV (formerly Google Ventures) is leading this round, according to the report by Axios , as the massive land grab for a stake in the scooter wars continues to heat up — whether that’s funding or actual scooters piling up on the sidewalk. Both companies have faced pushback from some city regulators (probably on the basis of tripping over them and falling on your face), but it still means the venture community is still salivating over potentially the next major mode of metropolitan transportation. Most venture investors in the Valley argue scooters make sense for short trips throughout areas that are just too far to be considered a trek, but too close that it would be a waste of time and money to call a rideshare like Uber or Lyft. Given that Uber exposed a massive hole for easier transportation in major metropolitan areas — and potentially replacing cars in those areas — getting into the next big transportation revolution is more than tempting enough for firms like GV (which is also an investor in Uber). Lime was previously reported to be seeking up to $500 million in funding and was taking meetings with some major firms in Silicon Valley over the past few weeks. It might not get that, but a $250 million influx might be plenty to try to continue to ramp up its business and get more rides on board. Axios is reporting that Lime has told investors users have taken 4.2 million rides and each scooter gets 8 to 12 rides per day. Still, while it’s not $500 million, there’s plenty of interest in the on-demand scooter business — challenges of keeping them charged and intact included — that Bird has authorized the sale of up to $200 million in new shares at a $1 billion valuation just months after its previous round. So it might not be surprising if this, too, ends up as kind of a rolling process where Lime eventually gets all the capital it sought.

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