Controversial Electric Scooter Company Bird Buys Scoot to Scale Faster

Recently, controversial scooter company Bird acquired smaller scooter and moped company Scoot. The companies hope that together, they’ll be able to scale to worldwide access, bringing scooters, mopeds and bikes for rent to people around the world.

Bird was the first electric scooter company in the U.S. As such, Bird grew rapidly, growing from having scooters in just one city to being in more than 100 cities across the U.S. and Europe.

In comparison, Scoot has grown at a slower pace, only operating in two cities — San Francisco and Barcelona.

In fact, the two companies operate completely differently.

Bird is known for taking over new cities by surprise and dropping hundreds of its scooters on streets overnight without warning or working with local lawmakers or residents. This has caused significant problems when riders don’t follow traffic laws, endanger pedestrians are leave scooters laying wherever, sometimes blocking wheelchair access or parking spots.

Throughout the complaints, Bird has largely pinned responsibility elsewhere. Bird CEO and founder Travis VanderZanden said that “it’s ultimately up to the riders to follow the rules”..

Meanwhile, Scoot has worked with local regulators to get permits beforehand and create programs which work to ensure public safety and access. The company’s growth has been slow but steady.

As Michael Keating, Scoot’s founder and president, noted: “You’ve got to figure out how to mash up your techie startup organization with the city… Otherwise you’re going to make a mess. We want to be around in 10 or 20 or 100 years… We’re not trying to grow as big as we can and flame out.”

Scoot’s operation style has been rewarded. For example, San Francisco granted Scoot one of only two-yearly permits to operate electric scooters in the city due to their rule-following. Bird, on the other hand, didn’t get a permit and was banned from the city.

The teaming up of Bird and Scoot makes sense, balancing their tech and operation styles.