San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency banned Bird from the byways of San Francisco last year. Since then, the heavily funded microtransit company has been searching for ways to circumvent the ruling. A few months ago, Bird found a way to trickle scooters into the SF market by renting out their scooters. Rather than having their scooters line sidewalks, they would be stored in homes, which allowed Bird to squeeze through a loophole in City Hall’s sidewalk ban.
Now, Bird has bought out Scooter, one of the only two scooters permitted to operate in SF. The acquisition is veiled as a partnership by all involved. According to Bird’s press release, “Scoot will continue to operate as Scoot, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bird.”
Michael Keating, Scoot’s founder, echoed this sentiment in a tweet.
— Michael Keating (@mbkeating) June 12, 2019
It will be interesting to see how other major microtransit companies like Lime react to Bird’s divide and conquer tactic. Companies of Bird’s ilk were kicked out of the SF market, in part, due to aggressive mobilization tactics that didn’t place safety at a high priority. An acquisition strategy may develop wherein small home-grown startups that take the risk of employing workers as opposed to contractors are then snapped up by V.C. backed microtransit companies.
The positive or negative outcome of Bird’s plan to integrate Scoot may or may not lead to the acquisition of Skip. The key would be to assure that the acquired company maintain a level of autonomy so as not to offend city officials. The question then would be, how well will Bird be able to divorce its methods from that of Scoot? If Scoot starts to resemble Bird more and more as the years go by, Scoot may be in trouble in SF.
In any case, Scoot seems to be reveling in the opportunities it has been afforded to expand.
— Scoot (@ScootNetworks) June 12, 2019