Bird, an electric scooter-sharing startup, is trying to raise $150 million in a funding round that will bring its valuation to $1 billion to become the first scooter unicorn. According to Bloomberg, the round is being led by Sequoia Capital — and sources say the company plans to raise more. A spokesman for Bird declined to comment.
The electric scooter market is heating up, with Bird — along with its competitors, Lime and Spin — allowing users to download an app to unlock the scooters and ride them for a minimal fee. There are even rumors that ridesharing company Lyft is looking to get into the electronic scooter game, while Uber acquired electric bike company JUMP in April.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a blog post, “We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app, so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway or more.”
Bird’s CEO Travis VanderZanden was formerly an executive at both Lyft and Uber.
While the market is heating up, many city governments aren’t completely on board with what others see as a nuisance. San Francisco has revealed that it will ban scooters starting June 4, pending further permitting — although Uber’s electric bike company has approval to operate in the city.
For its part, Bird has initiated a “Save Our Sidewalks” campaign, urging other electric scooter companies to pledge to retrieve all vehicles from city streets every night, keep from increasing the number of vehicles in a given city — unless they are being used, on average, at least three times per vehicle per day — and offer to remit $1 per vehicle per day to city governments — so they can use the money to build more bike lanes, promote safety and maintain the shared infrastructure.
VanderZanden wrote in a letter to the CEOs of Lime, Ofo, Mobike and Jump, “Although we are competitors, we all share a passion for the transformation that we are all working to bring about. But as an industry of innovators, we need to lead not just on technology, but on social responsibility. We hope that all of you join us in this S.O.S. Pledge to help our cities thrive.”