Escooter Shuffling Continues As Bird Buys Rival Scoot

Posted by at 12:11 pm on June 12, 2019

San Francisco startup Scoot, one of two companies with permission to rent electric scooters on its hometown’s streets, has been acquired by Bird, a much larger Santa Monica rival, the companies said Wednesday.

“We have pursued our mission of electric vehicles for everyone and showed cities that shared, electric mobility is a convenient, fun, and affordable way for citizens to get where they need to go,” said Michael Keating, Scoot’s founder, in a statement. “With Bird, our mission remains the same, but the scale at which we will pursue it, and the vehicles we will offer will be so much better for our riders and the cities we serve.”

Under a 12-month pilot plan that runs until mid-October, Scoot and a company called Skip have permission to offer street-rented e-scooters. Initially the two companies were limited to 625 each, a number that they can double if they meet certain benchmarks. Scoot has consistently offered far fewer than its permitted allotment, however.

Besides the stand-up e-scooters, Scoot pioneered hourly rentals of sit-down electric scooters in San Francisco five years ago with a fleet of 650 red electric mopeds resembling Vespas. It worked with city officials to craft a permit system before launching.

Bird and San Francisco’s Lime are by far the two largest e-scooter rental companies. Both were rejected for San Francisco’s pilot program; city officials were miffed by their abrupt rollout of numerous scooters a year ago without permission.

Scoot will continue to operate under its own name as a subsidiary of Bird, the companies said.

Besides Lime and Bird, a number of companies handle scooter rentals around the world. It’s a field that basically sprang into existence in the past 18 months. Another San Francisco scooter startup called Spin was acquired by Ford Motor Co. for $100 million in November.

“We are thrilled to welcome Scoot to the Bird ecosystem and look forward to working with the Scoot team as we further scale our complementary missions — to replace car trips with micro-mobility options for all,” Travis VanderZanden, founder and CEO of Bird, said in a statement.

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