Electric scooter company Bird continues to downsize as it has announced its machines will be exiting several regions in an effort to stay afloat.
The company states it’s going to “fully exit” (opens in new tab) Germany, Sweden, and Norway as well as several “small to mid-sized markets” across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, although it didn’t mention which exact locations. However, we do know of one: Atchison, Kansas, which recently revealed (opens in new tab) that Bird is pausing all operations in the city indefinitely. The city goes on to say Bird didn’t see Atchison as a good location “to support [its] near-term requirements for building an enduring business.” This reasoning falls in line with the company’s official statement on the downsizing.
Bird states the reason for its exiting is due to a “lack of robust regulatory framework” in local regions. The company claims some locations are not as conducive to its e-scooter business model as others. Support is available in some cities, but not others. Bird then goes on to blame the high amount of vehicles in these regions leading to “overcrowded streets,” along with stiff competition from rivals as other reasons for closing up shop.
From here, the company will start weeding out cities it considers to be nonviable to instead focus on ones with the “right regulatory framework and business environment”. Unfortunately, this downsizing will affect Bird employees in these regions. While it doesn’t say it outright in the announcement, Bird alludes to these people losing their jobs.
Absent from the announcement is any mention of fleet managers. According to Bird (opens in new tab), these are the local businesses and entrepreneurs who manage fleets of the company’s e-scooters within their local area. Managers pay a fee to the company and in return they can earn an income on the machines. Presumably, they’re losing their jobs as well, which may result in them taking the hardest blow out of anybody. The fleet manager program has been criticized in the past (opens in new tab) for putting people into thousands of dollars in debt for machines they will never truly own. It’s possible something similar can happen with fleet managers losing their business overnight.
We reached out to Bird to see if they would like to make a statement. A company spokesperson got back to us and essentially reiterated what Bird said in its announcement: that it will focus “towards cities and countries that have put the right regulatory framework and business environment in place…”
Sadly, Bird’s downsizing continues this year’s trend of tech companies laying off employees. In fact, back in June (opens in new tab), the company laid off 23 percent of its employees as a way to cut costs. Something similar is happening at Microsoft with the company laying off some of its employees, although it didn’t say how many. (One anonymous source claims about 1,000 jobs will get the axe.) In a similar vein, companies like Meta have enacted hiring freezes as a way to stay afloat in these tough times.
The particularly unfortunate thing about the Bird downsizing is that it affects the customer just as much since people are losing a mode of transportation. If you find Bird scooters disappearing in your area, we recommend checking out TechRadar’s best e-scooter list for 2022 to get an idea for a more permanent solution.