It’s been a rough month for electric scooter startups.
Following news that Lyft laid off dozens of its employees earlier this month in its scooter and bike division, Bird is the latest scooter outfit to cut staff. The Information reported on Friday that the company laid off roughly 5 per cent of its employees, amounting to a little over three dozen employees in total.
A spokesperson for the e-scooter startup told The Information the layoffs came as part of the company’s “shifting needs, geographical business demands and our annual talent review process”. As Bird focusses its energies on service centres in local markets, the spokesperson said that it has “shifting geographic workforce needs”.
Bird, a major player in the ongoing e-scooter takeover of city streets across the globe, saw its valuation double to £1.5 billion in just four months following two rounds of funding totalling £300 million last summer. The company trialled its scooters at London's Olympic Park at the end of 2018 but, as the technology is similar to Segways and hoverboards, still faces significant legal hurdles before it can establish itself in the UK.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported in December that the company’s ambitious goals for additional funding in the hundreds of millions were stalled after interest cooled. Even still, Bird was reported in January to be raising another round of £225 million.
News of the layoffs comes as the company is tightening its belt and shifting its focus from scaling to the “unit economics of the business”, Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden told The Information. However, the site noted that the company currently has hundreds of listings for open positions, many of which are located in Santa Monica, California, the home of its headquarters.
Earlier this month, TechCrunch reported that Lyft’s scooter and bike division slashed roughly 50 employees. The layoffs, which amounted to a slim one per cent of the company’s workforce, reportedly affected staff across departments and markets. A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch that the layoffs came as “part of our performance management process”. [The Information]
Featured photo: Jeff Chiu (AP)