Bird hires Uber’s former head of finance and director of corporate development

Bird, the scooter-sharing startup founded by former Uber VP of International Growth Travis VanderZanden, has brought a couple of former Uber employees to the flock. Joining Bird as VP and Head of Finance is Dennis Cinelli, who worked as Uber’s head of finance for global rides up until this month, according to his LinkedIn. Uber, […]

Bird, the scooter-sharing startup founded by former Uber VP of International Growth Travis VanderZanden, has brought a couple of former Uber employees to the flock.

Joining Bird as VP and Head of Finance is Dennis Cinelli, who worked as Uber’s head of finance for global rides up until this month, according to his LinkedIn. Uber, of course, is not without a financial leader. In August, Uber’s lengthy search for a chief financial officer ended when the company hired Nelson Chai, the former CEO of insurance and warranty provider Warranty Group. Bird has also brought on Uber’s now-former director of corporate development Yibo Ling, who also worked at Uber up until this month, according to Ling’s LinkedIn.

“As Bird enters its second year, we’re continuing to expand our talented executive team to build on and scale our momentum,” Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a press release. “Dennis and Yibo both bring valuable experience expanding markets and I look forward to working with them closely as we continue on our mission.”

Last month, Bird hit 10 million rides after about one year of operating. Earlier this month, Bird unveiled custom electric scooters and a delivery service for people to be able to rent scooters for a full day.

Bird unveils custom electric scooters and delivery

Bird, the electric scooter sharing startup worth $2 billion, is further differentiating itself from the rest of the pack with the launch of custom, rugged electric scooters. These will roll out in the “coming weeks” post-beta testing in Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Baltimore, Austin and Salt Lake City. Dubbed Bird Zero, the scooters have 60 percent […]

Bird, the electric scooter sharing startup worth $2 billion, is further differentiating itself from the rest of the pack with the launch of custom, rugged electric scooters. These will roll out in the “coming weeks” post-beta testing in Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Baltimore, Austin and Salt Lake City.

Dubbed Bird Zero, the scooters have 60 percent more battery life, and better ride stability and durability than the original model. There’s also an integrated digital screen to display your speed.

“We call it Bird Zero because it’s the first vehicle we’ve designed and engineered ourselves specifically for the shared electric scooter space,” Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden told TechCrunch this morning.

Bird, in partnership with Okai, designed and manufactured the scooter from the ground up. Bird handled the design and Okai handled the manufacturing. But for now, the plan is to continue working with multiple vehicle manufacturers, VanderZanden said.

“What I will say is the Bird Zero is designed specifically for this use case so we’re going to keep watching and getting feedback from our rider and charger community,” he said.

Many electric scooter companies don’t actually build their own scooters. Instead, they’re slapping stickers and logos on scooters that have been around for years. Lime, Bird and Spin launched using scooters from Ninebot, a Chinese scooter company that has merged with Segway. Ninebot is backed by investors, including Sequoia Capital, Xiaomi and ShunWei. Lime, however, has since partnered with Segway to build scooters and Skip has said from day one that it plans to make its own.

A Bird Rides Inc. shared electric scooter stands on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The name of the game, VanderZanden said, is to be as customer-obsessed as possible. That’s where Bird Delivery, launching soon, comes in. With Bird Delivery, riders can request a Bird be delivered to their home or office by 8 a.m. From there, the rider can use it throughout the day.

“The city is a top customer but we’ve also been listening to the riders and figuring out what riders really want,” he said. “Riders really want a Bird delivered to them in the morning at their house. We think that’s a super magical experience. We’ll be rolling that out very soon. Not a lot of our riders live close to downtown areas, so there’s an equity component there that we think is very exciting.”

Bird has yet to determine the pricing but will announce it soon. What VanderZanden would share is that it will make “financial sense for you.” He hypothesizes that, while people could theoretically purchase their own scooters, they won’t because then they’d have to deal with charging, maintenance and storage.

Last month, Bird announced 10 million scooter rides since launching about one year ago. To date, Bird has raised $415 million in funding for shared electric scooters and operates in more than 100 cities.

A Lime scooter rider died this morning in Washington, D.C., marking the second fatality this month

Lime, the 18-month-old, San Francisco-based company whose bright green bicycles and scooters now dot cities throughout the U.S., launched a pilot program in Tacoma, Washington, today, but that tiny victory might have felt short-lived. The reason: on the opposite side of the country, a Lime rider was killed today by an SUV while tooling around Washington […]

Lime, the 18-month-old, San Francisco-based company whose bright green bicycles and scooters now dot cities throughout the U.S., launched a pilot program in Tacoma, Washington, today, but that tiny victory might have felt short-lived. The reason: on the opposite side of the country, a Lime rider was killed today by an SUV while tooling around Washington D.C.’s DuPont neighborhood. The local fire department shared video of the rescue, which shows that the victim, an adult male, had to be pulled from the undercarriage of the vehicle.

It’s the second known fatality for the company following a death earlier this month in Dallas, when a 24-year-old Texas man fell off the scooter he was riding and died from blunt force injuries to his head.

On the one hand, the developments, while unfortunate, can hardly come as a surprise to anyone given how vulnerable riders or e-scooters are. E-scooter use is on the rise, with both Lime and its L.A.-based rival Bird, announcing this week that their customers have now taken north of 10 million rides. At the same time, city after city has deemed their use on sidewalks illegal out of fear that fast-moving riders will collide with and injure pedestrians. That leaves riders sharing city streets with the same types of giant, exhaust-spewing machines that they hope to increasingly displace. In fact, sales of traditional SUVs has continued to surge, thanks in part to low unemployment, high consumer confidence, and American’s enduring love with gigantic vehicles.

One solution to the issue, and one for which the e-scooter companies and their investors have been advocating, are protected lanes that would allow e-scooters to be operated more safely. Bird has even publicly offered to help fund new infrastructure that keeps cyclists and scooter riders safer.

Another possible answer would appear to be mandating the use of helmets with e-scooters, though California evidently disagrees. On Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into a law that states Californians riding electric scooters will no longer be required to wear helmets as of January 1.

The bill was reportedly sponsored by Bird.

Bird hits 10 million scooter rides

Bird just announced 10 million scooter rides since launching about one year ago. If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because Bird competitor Lime earlier today announced it surpassed 11.5 million rides across its shared bikes and scooters. Bird, which launched last September in Santa Monica, Calif., currently operates in 100 cities and […]

Bird just announced 10 million scooter rides since launching about one year ago. If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because Bird competitor Lime earlier today announced it surpassed 11.5 million rides across its shared bikes and scooters.

Bird, which launched last September in Santa Monica, Calif., currently operates in 100 cities and has over two million unique riders, Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden told TechCrunch. But Bird’s first year of operations has been full of ups and downs.

Many of the downs have been around regulatory issues. Bird faced, and overcame them, in Santa Monica but failed in San Francisco.

“I think anytime you’re doing something new that the cities haven’t contemplated before, there always seems to be gray area on where you fit in in the regulatory environment,” VanderZanden said. “Cities hadn’t thought about electric scooters and electric scooter sharing. We collaborated very closely with the cities we’re in now.”

Although San Francisco did not grant an operating permit to Bird — the city gave them to Scoot and Skip — VanderZanden stressed that “San Francisco is one city. We’re in 100 cities.”

He also said Bird is not looking to appeal the decision in San Francisco. Lime, however, is in engaging in the appeals process.

As Bird enters its second year of operations, the name of the game is to double down on its efforts with cities and building out its government tech platform. Bird is also looking into manufacturing its own scooters to provide more durability to its customers and differentiate itself from other scooters on the market.

“We’ve been investing heavily in that area,” VanderZanden said. “You’ll start to see new vehicles coming from us soon.”

He added, “we want to keep building vehicles that are more ruggedized but also vehicles that have new features for the riders as well.”

And Bird definitely has the funds to do that. To date, Bird has raised $415 million in funding for shared electric scooters.

Lime is pissed at San Francisco for denying it an e-scooter permit, claims ‘unlawful bias’

Lime is waging a war against the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency (SFMTA), claiming that the organization acted with “unlawful bias” and “sought to punish Lime” when it chose not to award the e-scooter and dockless bike startup a permit to operate in San Francisco last month. Lime has sent an appeal to the SFMTA, requesting an “unbiased […]

Lime is waging a war against the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency (SFMTA), claiming that the organization acted with “unlawful bias” and “sought to punish Lime” when it chose not to award the e-scooter and dockless bike startup a permit to operate in San Francisco last month.

Lime has sent an appeal to the SFMTA, requesting an “unbiased hearing officer” reevaluate its application to participate in the city’s 12-month pilot program for e-scooter providers.

San Francisco’s permit process came as a result of Lime and its competitors, Bird and Spin, deploying their scooters without permission in the city this March. As part of a new city law, which went into effect in June, scooter startups are not able to operate in San Francisco without a permit.

Lyft, Skip, Spin, Lime, Scoot, ofo, Razor, CycleHop, USSCooter and Ridecell all applied for said permit in June; the SFTMA only awarded permits to Scoot and Skip.

Lime thinks the selection process was unfair and that because it deployed scooters in the city without asking permission — the Uber model of expansion — SFMTA intentionally rejected its application despite its qualifications.

“The SFMTA ignored the fact that Scoot’s price is twice that of other applicants, including Lime, and that Scoot declined to offer any discounted cash payment option to low-income users, as required by law,” Lime wrote in a statement today. “SFMTA inexplicably avoided inclusion of these factors as evaluation criteria and instead deemed Scoot “satisfactory” because they ‘agreed to comply.'”

When Lime learned of its rejection on Aug. 30, CEO Toby Sun said he was disappointed and planned to appeal the decision.

San Franciscans deserve an equitable and transparent process when it comes to transportation and mobility. Instead, the SFMTA has selected inexperienced scooter operators that plan to learn on the job, at the expense of the public good … The SFMTA’s handling of the dockless bike and scooter share programs has lacked transparency from the beginning. We call on the Mayor’s Office and Board of Supervisors to hold the SFMTA accountable for a flawed permitting process. As a San Francisco-based company, this is where we live and work. We want to serve this community.”

Though Lime wasn’t able to successfully sway San Francisco authorities, it was given permission to operate in Santa Monica last month alongside Bird, Lyft and JUMP Bikes.

E-scooters are expected to return to the streets of San Francisco on Oct. 15.

It’s Friday, so here’s a rap video about scooter startup Bird

Listen, if you’re the kind of person who wants to watch a rap video about scooters, here’s a rap video about scooters. Don’t let me stop you. Also, if you make it to the end, you might as well stick around for the credits. For one thing, you’ll learn that it was directed by Andrew […]

Listen, if you’re the kind of person who wants to watch a rap video about scooters, here’s a rap video about scooters. Don’t let me stop you.

Also, if you make it to the end, you might as well stick around for the credits. For one thing, you’ll learn that it was directed by Andrew Oleck, the man who created that fake Mark Zuckerberg video, “A World Without Facebook.”

And then there’s the disclaimer: “This video is not an advertisement. It is comedic satire. Bayview Drive Films is not endorsed, affiliated or otherwise sponsored by Bird .”

It’s the kind of message that raises more questions than it answers. Like: What’s the joke here? Is the video pro-scooter, anti-scooter, neither, both? Was I supposed to laugh? I mean, I chuckled a little at the rubber chicken, but mostly I cringed. Is that normal? Would I have gotten more out of it if I listened to more rap? Or if I’d ever been on a scooter? Right now, in the year 2018, is “satire” even possible?

In related news, here’s a a synth-pop song about Elon Musk . Happy Labor Day weekend!

Skip and Scoot are the only companies awarded scooter permits in SF

The great San Francisco scooter decision has been made. And Skip and Scoot have claimed the prize. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) issued one-year permits to Skip and Scoot on Thursday, a decision that ends months of waiting for 12 companies that applied to operate within the city. JUMP, which Uber acquired in April, as well as Lyft,  Skip, […]

The great San Francisco scooter decision has been made. And Skip and Scoot have claimed the prize.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) issued one-year permits to Skip and Scoot on Thursday, a decision that ends months of waiting for 12 companies that applied to operate within the city. JUMP, which Uber acquired in April, as well as Lyft,  Skip, Spin, Lime, Scoot, ofo, Skip, Razor, CycleHop, USSCooter and Ridecell are applied for permits in San Francisco.

The permits will allow a maximum of 625 scooters for each company in the first six months. Scoot and Skip may have the potential to increase their number of scooters in months seven to 12 to a cap of 2,500, at the SFMTA’s sole discretion.

“The SFMTA’s decision is based on the strength of the proposals submitted by the two companies, combined with their experience of owning, operating and maintaining a shared mobility service in the public right-of-way. The agency looked for applications that prioritized the city’s concerns around safety, disabled access, equity and accountability,” the agency said.

The SFMTA noted in its decision that Skip and Scoot had the strongest applications. The agency seemed particularly interested in safety measures these companies planned to take. Scoot, which was been managing a fleet of shared electric mopeds in San Francisco since 2012, proposed mandatory instructional videos for users, helmets included in rentals, and free in-person training.

Scoot also proposed using swappable batteries instead of manually taking the scooters off the street for regular recharging.

“This method could help the city reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled on San Francisco streets, which helps reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions,” the SFMTA said in its decision.

Scoot said it will soon introduce an electric kick-style scooter to its line-up of electric motor scooters and electric bicycles in response to the decision.

Unsurprisingly, the companies that lost out have expressed dismay with the decision.

“Jump both submitted a strong application and has a track record of successfully working with the city on our bike pilot,” an Uber spokesperson wrote in an email. “Granting only two scooter permits unnecessarily limits mobility options in San Francisco, and we plan to follow up with the SFMTA to share our concerns,”

Bird, a scooter startup that has $2 billion valuation, said it will continue to work with San Francisco officials, partners, community organizations, and advocates in hopes of bringing Bird back to the City by the Bay, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Bird, which has a goal of operating in 50 cities globally before the end of the year, noted that residents have sent nearly 30,000 emails to city officials in support of bringing Bird to San Francisco.

The pilot program is the city’s solution to handling the scooter chaos of 2018. Bird, and soon after, Lime and Spin released their fleet of scooters into the city in March without permission. They became an instant hit among city residents seeking out fast and cheap ways to get around town. They also soon became a pariah as scooters inundated sidewalks and right of ways.

The SFMTA put a temporary ban on all scooters in May and initiated a permit process as part of a 24-month pilot program that would allow up to five scooter companies to operate in the city.

Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMP didn’t complete lose out Thursday. The city of Santa Monica’s Shared Mobility Device Selection Committee officially awarded Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMP Bikes permits to operate both electric scooters and/or bikes in the city as part of its 16-month pilot program beginning Sept. 17.

Lyft, which remains hopeful that it will have the chance to offer scooters in San Francisco in the future, is now focused on Santa Monica.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded permits for both bikes and scooters by the City of Santa Monica,”  Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s bike and scooter policy lead said in an emailed statement. “The city’s decision to collaborate with Lyft deepens a partnership that will reduce vehicle congestion, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation solutions to all residents of Santa Monica.”

Skip and Scoot are the only companies awarded scooter permits in SF

The great San Francisco scooter decision has been made. And Skip and Scoot have claimed the prize. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) issued one-year permits to Skip and Scoot on Thursday, a decision that ends months of waiting for 12 companies that applied to operate within the city. JUMP, which Uber acquired in April, as well as Lyft,  Skip, […]

The great San Francisco scooter decision has been made. And Skip and Scoot have claimed the prize.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) issued one-year permits to Skip and Scoot on Thursday, a decision that ends months of waiting for 12 companies that applied to operate within the city. JUMP, which Uber acquired in April, as well as Lyft,  Skip, Spin, Lime, Scoot, ofo, Skip, Razor, CycleHop, USSCooter and Ridecell are applied for permits in San Francisco.

The permits will allow a maximum of 625 scooters for each company in the first six months. Scoot and Skip may have the potential to increase their number of scooters in months seven to 12 to a cap of 2,500, at the SFMTA’s sole discretion.

“The SFMTA’s decision is based on the strength of the proposals submitted by the two companies, combined with their experience of owning, operating and maintaining a shared mobility service in the public right-of-way. The agency looked for applications that prioritized the city’s concerns around safety, disabled access, equity and accountability,” the agency said.

The SFMTA noted in its decision that Skip and Scoot had the strongest applications. The agency seemed particularly interested in safety measures these companies planned to take. Scoot, which was been managing a fleet of shared electric mopeds in San Francisco since 2012, proposed mandatory instructional videos for users, helmets included in rentals, and free in-person training.

Scoot also proposed using swappable batteries instead of manually taking the scooters off the street for regular recharging.

“This method could help the city reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled on San Francisco streets, which helps reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions,” the SFMTA said in its decision.

Scoot said it will soon introduce an electric kick-style scooter to its line-up of electric motor scooters and electric bicycles in response to the decision.

Unsurprisingly, the companies that lost out have expressed dismay with the decision.

“Jump both submitted a strong application and has a track record of successfully working with the city on our bike pilot,” an Uber spokesperson wrote in an email. “Granting only two scooter permits unnecessarily limits mobility options in San Francisco, and we plan to follow up with the SFMTA to share our concerns,”

Bird, a scooter startup that has $2 billion valuation, said it will continue to work with San Francisco officials, partners, community organizations, and advocates in hopes of bringing Bird back to the City by the Bay, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Bird, which has a goal of operating in 50 cities globally before the end of the year, noted that residents have sent nearly 30,000 emails to city officials in support of bringing Bird to San Francisco.

The pilot program is the city’s solution to handling the scooter chaos of 2018. Bird, and soon after, Lime and Spin released their fleet of scooters into the city in March without permission. They became an instant hit among city residents seeking out fast and cheap ways to get around town. They also soon became a pariah as scooters inundated sidewalks and right of ways.

The SFMTA put a temporary ban on all scooters in May and initiated a permit process as part of a 24-month pilot program that would allow up to five scooter companies to operate in the city.

Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMP didn’t complete lose out Thursday. The city of Santa Monica’s Shared Mobility Device Selection Committee officially awarded Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMP Bikes permits to operate both electric scooters and/or bikes in the city as part of its 16-month pilot program beginning Sept. 17.

Lyft, which remains hopeful that it will have the chance to offer scooters in San Francisco in the future, is now focused on Santa Monica.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded permits for both bikes and scooters by the City of Santa Monica,”  Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s bike and scooter policy lead said in an emailed statement. “The city’s decision to collaborate with Lyft deepens a partnership that will reduce vehicle congestion, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation solutions to all residents of Santa Monica.”

SF and Santa Monica expected to award official permits to scooter companies today

The day has arrived. After more than two months of waiting, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is poised to determine which of 12 companies will successfully procure one of the city’s five permits. 

The day has arrived. After more than two months of waiting, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is poised to determine which of 12 companies will successfully procure one of the city’s five permits. 

The permits are hot commodities for those competing for scooter market dominance, which includes Uber and Lyft, which applied for permits to operate e-scooters despite not yet having any. San Francisco is a key market for e-scooters; for some of these companies, failing to receive a permit could mean the end of the road.

Santa Monica, where Bird is headquartered, is also expected to award four permits for its electric scooter and bike pilot program today. Bird is the most valuable scooter startup; it hit a $2 billion valuation in June after raising hundreds of millions in venture capital funding. 

Bird, Lime and Spin — all of which applied for permits — were the three original players in the San Francisco scooter game. They released their fleet of scooters in the city in March without permission. As a result, the SFMTA asked the companies to temporarily remove the scooters in late May and initiated a permit process as part of the 24-month pilot program.

As part of the program, the city will allow only 2,500 scooters on the streets at once. Those chosen are required to provide user education and insurance, share the data of the trips with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data and offer a low-income plan to their riders.

The other companies that applied for permits are Scoot, Ridecell, USSCooter, Skip, Ofo, Razor and Hopr (Cyclehop).

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 […]

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.

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.

In addition to asking people to contact their city officials, Bird and Lime are hosting a rally later today at Santa Monica City hall. But given that most of these electric scooters are manufactured by the same provider and that the services are essentially the same, I’d be surprised if there’s much brand loyalty. Over in San Francisco, I personally miss having electric scooters but I really don’t give a rat’s pajamas which services receive permits. That’s just to say, we’ll see if these efforts are effective.

I’ve reached out to both Lime and Bird and will update this story if I hear back.