Electric scooter startup Bird is on the verge of a $2 billion valuation, as it prepares to close a $300m funding round. The Venice, CA-headquartered company, which has already raised $115m, will receive its latest injection from Silicon Valley heavyweights including Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, and will supercharge the expansion of one of the US’ biggest recent tech success stories.
Bird, which only began operation last year, has become a near-ubiquitous sight on the sidewalks of major American metropolises, alongside other operators including Lime and Spin. This week’s funding should give Bird a significant edge, as it aims to flood more cities with its all-black two-wheelers.
The success of Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing platforms has sparked a gold rush for investors looking to find the Next Big Transport Thing – and Bird appears to be it. Founder Travis VanderZanden is a former executive at Uber and Lyft, and seems to be replicating their ultra-rapid scale plans with his latest company.
Like their four-wheeled cousins, however, Bird, Lime and Spin have not grown without their detractors. Citizens have complained about the number of scooters now littering downtowns across America. This week the city of Santa Barbara, CA has impounded 140 vehicles following a disagreement with Lime. San Francisco has placed a temporary hold on e-scooters until it reviews its permit process.
Public and government outcry hasn’t stymied the success of ride-hailing startups, however – and its looks unlikely to derail the rise of e-scooters, which VanderZanden, in an April interview, hoped would soon outnumber cars in US cities. Its latest funding should ensure that a lot more scooters will be zipping among foot-traffic in the near future.