a) Scoot raised something like $47,000,000. This article reports a cash and stock deal of $25,000,000.
b) Scoot launched in 2012 and spent their first 6 years renting mopeds and electric bikes, only recently launching what we all think of as "scooters" in late 2018.
c) The founder illustrates what Scoot saw as a gigantic problem in the space - theft and vandalism (1). He then wrote a follow-up post a few months later illustrating their solution - a proprietary lock adapter from their bike sharing network (2). I wonder if we'll see this technology rolled out @ Bird?
Maybe, but I'm pretty sure that the newest generation of Bird scooters are more difficult to hardwire. As far as I'm aware, nobody has done so yet, but most of them are still older generation and can be easily have their circuit boards replaced with ones for Xiaomi scooters(basically Bird scooters but without Bird's SIM card or GPS).
Vandalism is a far bigger problem for them, though, since most people don't have the skills(or rather the confidence) to hotwire a Bird scooter.
I read the average life on these scooters is 30 days before they are completely wrecked. People don't need to hotwire them to take them; I've seen teenagers riding them while locked and just pushing them along un powered, scooter beeping away.
That's interesting, because I know that Lime's scooters have their front wheel locked when not in ride-mode. (though thieves can basically just lift up the front wheel and push it away on the back one) I had no idea kids were just pushing away Bird scooters! I guess it makes sense the Bird scooters don't lock because the Xiaomi scooters they use are cheaper than comparable ones made by Segway, which is what Lime uses. Bird probably just decided it wasn't worth deterring thieves, at least initially.
I don't have much sympathy for these scooter companies, though, since their MO is to illegally dump scooters in cities and beg for forgiveness later.
I've found no information at all on how the wrecked scooters get recycled. You can't necessarily just repair scooters infinitely, and I imagine a lot of them just go into a dumpster because it's cheaper just to buy more scooters from Xiaomi.
> The founder illustrates what Scoot saw as a gigantic problem in the space - theft and vandalism
Is this actually a serious impediment to the scooter business model? Bulk electric scooters can be sourced from Chinese manufacturers for <$200. The ride sharing services charge $0.15/minute.
You breakeven in 24 hours of ride time. Assuming 30% utilization during peak hours and 10% off hours, the payback time is less than two weeks of deployment. You'd have to expect 5-10% of your fleet to be vandalized/stolen every day, before it breaks the margins.
The Information reported they (Bird) were paying $551 with a goal of reducing it to $360 per scooter. The unit economics are pretty atrocious, tbh. These scooters aren't designed for continuous operation out in the wild, for the average American girth, on anything other than a flat surface -- so they break a lot.
The average lifespan is 32 days (median 28) -- and only goes 85 miles over 70 trips. Average is 1.63 miles per trip, 18 minutes long, and 3.49 rides per day on average. That's why scooter rides are so expensive compared to JUMP, for instance.  Some napkin math indicates they lose (at minimum) $267 per scooter.
This was true back then, when Bird and most other companies were using m365 and esx scooters. The newer generation of scooters is way more durable, and have better battery life. The reality now with scooters like the Bird Zero is that churn is at least 10 months, which is more than enough to pay the vehicle and operational cost 7.5x
Interesting, though this slice/dice of the data  figuring in all known expense quantities show that they only make a net of $2.32 per day in Louisville. Even if we take 10 months that's still just under $700. Those economics do look a lot better, but don't more durable/beefier scooters cost more? I'm not seeing a way to get 7.5X back no matter how the numbers are finagled.
Curious how they know the scooters will last 10 months when new versions can't have been out in the wild in quantity for more than a single quarter.
To be clear, I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just hoping to learn more about whether it has yet.
I'm curious, do you know what scooter model Skip uses in SF? I've also seen Bird use it in San Jose and possibly elsewhere. It has a Segway label.
That model is fantastic. Very pleasant brake, and it is much more powerful than the one Scoot uses. The Segway one gets me up some of the hills in SF, whereas the Scoot one is woefully underpowered, a joke for a hilly city like SF.
They are decent scooters but I wish they had suspension + pneumatic tires. I still find the retail M365 to be much more pleasant to ride.
I actually fell pretty hard from a Skip scooter going slightly downhill in SF because their active breaking gave up on me while going downhill (maybe 20deg angle, not even too steep) I could have dealt with that but even worse it would keep turning itself on and off so the traction would keep changing, because the power connection must have been loose (or battery too low -- this was before they started warning you about a low battery on the app) or something.
They did at least add that battery warning, though. That was an important update.
New Zealand's Baldwin Street  is the world's steepest residential street, according to Guinness World Records, with a slope of 19°.
San Francisco's Filbert Street has a gradient of 17.5°  and that's that's steep enough that it has steps.
Of course, a road can be "very steep" and "normal for SF" at the same time! IMHO even if a road is very steep, if you're hiring scooters in a city the brakes (and geometry) should be good enough that an average rider can safely descend the city's steepest roads.
Their costs are higher than just the scooters. Not intimately familiar with either business, but I'd expect the scooters themselves to be on of the smaller costs. The infrastructure to charge them I'd expect to be one of the bigger ones, at least early on. Maybe on an on-going basis if that requires people to go retrieve scooters, etc. And I'd want a proprietary lock long before theft had actually eliminated my entire margin.
No at the moment I am quite sure it is absolutely bonkers, and this acquisition for much lower than the "valuation" gives some support for that.
However there are some potential caveats which could turn the whole game around. The thing is that when doing scooter profitability calculus, there are few inputs that when changed can have a massive effect. Some of these could be: Scooter durability, Scooter Battery life, Effect of theft & vandalism, cost of charging.
I've seen people in México City doing this late at night. I wonder if they are aware of the real costs of their services. Also, do they only pick scooters below a certain battery level? I observed one crew that picked one but left the other one next to it.
They have algorithms to pick which scooters should be moved and charged and compute a price to pay the people who charge them. You ideally want all your scooters to be fully charged before rush hour in the morning.
I always assumed Scoot's model was to iterate until they'd really polished the product, and then get an infusion of cash (ideally just a loan though probably VC money) and start expanding to a lot more cities.
The fact that Bird got 10x as much VC money and targeted hundreds of cities from the get-go doesn't make Bird any better, it just means Bird went the "large funding" route.
Bird has already started rolling out Bluetooth-based locks in some markets. They're kind of a hack - they're separate Bluetooth devices that are bolted onto the stem, and the unlock step is separate from the scooter unlock step.
freaking victory if you ask me, San Francisco has been completely backward on this scooter permit. There's never any scooters around, they are not available passed a certain hour in the evening, and above all they require you to have a US driver license. They are doing everything to incentivize people to learn how to drive and own a car...
I've never felt corruption before moving to San Francisco. There's money everywhere you walk, but there's the largest concentration of homeless people in the street (and they're not just homeless, they are junkies as well). Rent is completely absurd, and that's because no buildings can be built anywhere (if you look at the population of San Francisco 10 years ago, it hasn't moved). Public Transport is absolute shit, which makes it a hassle for a lot of people to live here because they need to commute every day to suburbs.
> freaking victory if you ask me, San Francisco has been completely backward on this scooter permit.
Backwards in what sense? As a rider of the Muni I'm personally tired of stepping over scooters near Folsom/Embarcadero and regularly almost getting side swiped walking on the sidewalk. I think scooters are a viable mode of transportation but my safety isn't something I'd like to risk due to Bird's lack of willingness to work with the city and provide a safe deployment.
Also, I'm not sure exactly what you're point is. It seems you are conflating homelessness, high cost of living with Bird's scooter transportation.
My city has also recently got them. Parking isn't so much of an issue (there aren't that many yet, and our sidewalks are quite big so there is a lot of space) it's just how people drive them. Mainly I'm just concerned how long it will be until someone is killed, and then the city will most likely outright ban them even though they are a good idea.
Most cyclists ride on the pavement as it's not really safe to ride on the road. They are lots of potholes and drivers aren't really aware how to share the road with cyclists. Maybe scooters can help change this, but anyway.
At pedestrian crossings, cyclists are required to dismount and walk their bike across. The majority of crossings don't explicitly stop traffic, but require traffic to yield to pedestrians. There are a lot of junctions with traffic lights where if you turn off the main route, as you turn you need to yield to pedestrians. If a bike is coming at 15km/h towards the crossing, your chances of seeing it are a lot less, hence the law. Scooter riders of course don't follow that rule, and at night with their dim lights (which may be coming from behind you, so in your blind spot) you aren't going to see them.
Once I was driving along a fast three lane road. The speed limit is 40km/h, but most people do 50-60. There were two scooters coming the wrong direction in one of the lanes - there was a perfectly useable sidewalk that they could have used.
Another time I pulled off from a red light, going straight across a junction. A scooter drove across the pedestrian crossing parallel in the same direction, then at the end swerved right in front of me, switching from the pavement to the road.
I think part of the issue is that you pay per minute. It causes people to rush and act irrationally, rather than taking their time and being safer. I've seen the same happen with car sharing schemes where you pay per minute.
>Mainly I'm just concerned how long it will be until someone is killed
Well, while you were typing this comment somebody probably got killed by a car in your city. Why are you concerned about an imaginary problem that hasn't even happened yet? If everyone rode a scooter or a bike instead of a car there'd be much less road fatalities.
My city got scooters some months ago, they were rolled out slowly but now we got 5+ different companies on this space.
My impressions are generally the same, people simply can't act safely on scooters. I commute by bike every day to work and just this week I've seen:
- Two teens riding one scooter, going in and out of the bike lane in one of the heaviest traffic avenues, they got out of the bike lane around a bus stop and fell. Right in front of a bus that was stopping, the driver managed to stop the bus less than 30cm away from the duo.
- A tourist riding a scooter on the wrong way of the bike lane got out of the sidewalk and into the bike lane crashing head first into the cyclist in front of me. I had to stop and give assistance as the tourist guy hurt his wrist quite badly and the cyclist hit his knee on the pavement.
- A scooter ran through the red light on the bike lane by a pedestrian crossing and hit a girl on the crossing, nothing major but, again, completely unsafe.
This is JUST THIS WEEK, I've seen similar egregious behaviour of some riders for at least the past 4-5 months... It needs to be fixed somehow, I wouldn't like a ban but this can't keep going on this way.
New forms of transport surely need some getting used to. I remember reading a story about the very first demonstration of a train in the UK. People got run over cause they weren't used to things moving so fast.
When you first ride a motorbike you get very distracted by the way the throttle and brakes work, and their position.
Probably same story with scooters. Or they're just idiots who don't understand basic traffic rules.
Also, there's plenty of accidents happening with conventional bicycles. Tyres get stuck in tram rails, car doors swinging open ... I once fell on an oil slick on a round about in front of a bus. Not a reason to ban bicycles.
there are all over our streets, look outside your window. Your city has been designed so that huge cars can ride around. Don't you wonder why you have to walk so much to get from point A to point B? And risk your life every time you cross the street at specific crossing points?
When cars start driving on sidewalks or being parked on the same, you might have a case. Until then, scooters are nothing but a toy for obnoxioous hipsters with no concern for anyone or anything other then them being too lazy to move their nicely oiled beards two blocks using their feet, like all normal and decent people do.
There is laws for where and how you park a car
The scooters are dumped wherever the lazy riders decides to dump them.
They are a menace, My city has had them for less than 6 months and I have been run into twice and had other near missus.
They are ugly,and ridden by people who in most cases could do with the extra exercise. It reminds me of the book The little prince
“Good morning," said the little prince.
Good morning," said the merchant.
This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst. You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need for anything to drink.
Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant. "Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
Anything you like..."
As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water.”
you live downtown? Don't you think cars and the smell of poop are more annoying than these practical and tiny scooters? The fact that you have to cross large streets because the main transportation system is cars?
Ha - first thought come that came to my mind. I wonder if SF city council will appreciate this move. If this was a purely "permit" driven acquisition, I'm surprised Bird won the bidding price vs the larger scooter companies. If this was for the technology (including the lock), then I'd be curious if this really adds value to Bird (as a comment below explains it very well, scooters can be profitable within 2 weeks so a % of theft is acceptable)
Maybe they'll finally have the resources to make a proper app. For context, they went web view -> react native, and both iterations were among the worst apps I've used on an Apple device. It's a shame that companies don't take pride in the UX they create, but I guess they were probably eng resource constrained.
You're right on the money here. Scoot was undoubtedly the worst app I've used in recent years. I liked their scooters but their app had a laggy webview and all the images were squashed and in the wrong aspect ratio.
I assumed this was a problem only on Android and that they were just a hipster head-in-the-sand company like Snap, but guess it was just crappy developers.
IIRC, there was a giant ruby backend and a web app that were both deployed in unison - made for a super janky app experience when it would require you to refresh the mobile app if a deploy occurred whilst you were in the middle of booking a moped (which BTW, I still love riding)
They city of SF has said Bird can't layoff any Scoot employees if they want to take over Scoot's permit.
>Among the conditions SFMTA asked of Bird is one Scoot employees may be >celebrating: Reiskin told Bird it must maintain the “same or greater number of >employees that Scoot has employed during the pilot” to also operate at the “same >or higher” compensation, including benefits, and to maintain Scoot’s commitment >to labor harmony in San Francisco.
You can't hire cheaper others because of the "same or higher compensation" bit. The only reason to fire anyone from Scoot is if they're genuinely not good at their job and you can replace them with someone who performs better at the same pay.
Funny, but doubtful that's it even the majority of the reason for this acquisition. Do you really think there's $25M in profit by operating one of many scooter rental services in San Francisco?
I'm sure the permit was a nice to have, but Bird's got a bunch of reasons to acquire Scoot. Experience with motorized scooters (which Bird just announced their own variant), an existing software team, a "kleenex"-level trademark, not to mention keeping it away from their competitors.
>But one detail in particular caught my eye. About 24 percent of Uber’s bookings—all the money that customers pay through the app and in cash, including driver earnings—occur in just five cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and São Paulo.
>For a company that operates in more than 700 cities, including quite a few giants—Mexico City, Tokyo, Paris, Lagos, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Mumbai, to name a few—that concentration gives Uber a surprising vulnerability at the local level. And they know it.
Acquisition for just SF could be sole justification.
If pattern is similar to Uber, SF would be one of the 5 core markets for Bird.
> Do you really think there's $25M in profit by operating one of many scooter rental services in San Francisco?
How many of Bird's other moves seem to be driven by profit? They seem to be at a point where they're fighting to still exist in a year or two. Given that, they'll want to take some big risks to give themselves as much of a chance as possible.
That's too bad. I used Scoot a lot back in 2012 before they even had one way trips. The biggest issue back then was also lack of availability near the Caltrain. I get the distinct impression that's going to be the achilles heal of the entire "last mile" effort in SF.
I'd be interested in learning if anybody takes the BART into SF and then uses Scoot or something similar. I imagine that would be more successful since there are many more stops downtown.
It's the wrong number of letters, though. Here in Washington, DC, we currently have six licensed scooter companies: Bird, Jump, Lime, Lyft, Skip, and Spin. Through advanced statistical analysis, I've therefore determined that four letters is the correct number of letters in a scooter company name. "Scoot" needs to lose one somehow!
To be honest, I'd be quite happy if Scoot stopped doing kick scooters and just focused on mopeds, and ran the kick scooters under the Bird name instead. I don't actually like the kick scooters, so they just clutter up the Scoot app and make it harder to see at a glance where the mopeds are.
I'd assume Scoot can now grow faster, while being less constrained by capital when expanding to new locations like Spain and Chile (buying more scooters every time).
At the same time Bird can benefit from Scoot's operational experience, which at this point must be iterated and relatively efficient.
From what I've heard from regular users though, Scoot's service is already pretty good. I even know two super-users who promote it to everyone they know all the time, and use it every day to commute from Richmond <> Downtown.
I love Scoot but I'm still peeved at the way Bird handled rolling their scooters out in SF. I trusted Scoot to do the right thing when it came to engaging the city and making sure they use public infrastructure responsibly, but I have none of that trust for Bird. I guess we'll see how it goes, but maybe it's just time to buy my own GenZe :(
I don't understand how Scoot's permits to operate dockless scooters / bikes / whatever relates to the Lyft lawsuit over their exclusive right to operate in SF. Not a lawyer but the wording I saw seems like Lyft is likely to prevail there.