- Micromobility company Bird acquired European rival Circ, resulting in the addition of 300 employees to Bird's European operation.
- Bird also increased its Series D funding round from $275 million to $350 million. The investment, led by CDPQ and Sequoia Capital, will help Bird increase vehicle development and research, support European expansion plans, and make gains on its "path to profitability," according to the company announcement.
- The acquisition should help Bird strengthen its international foothold in the scooter industry, with Berlin-based Circ's operations spread across 43 cities in 12 countries.
Bird launched in over 50 European cities this summer, and this market expansion should result in Europe and the Middle East representing 50% of Bird's operations across the globe, according to the company press release.
"As a Santa Monica-based company, Bird’s primary focus has been U.S. growth," a Bird spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive in an email. "But as we operated in Europe and looked to expand across the region to capitalize on EMEA's [Europe, Middle East, and Africa] growth potential, we admired what the Circ team had built and accomplished in the region."
The acquisition also points to a greater consolidation trend across the micromobility industry as scooter companies struggle to make a profit despite a recent flurry of venture capital injections.
"Nearly a year ago, we recognized that the world was changing. Gone are the days when top line growth was the leading KPI for emerging companies. Positive unit economics is the new goal line," Bird Founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. "As a result, we pivoted from growth to unit economics as the top priority for the company...we are paving the road for a long term sustainable and healthy business."
Creating more sustainable businesses, however, has resulted in some layoffs at U.S. micromobility companies, and Bird is no exception. The company laid off around two dozen employees following its $25 million acquisition of Scoot, which were the company’s second set of layoffs in 2019. Circ also experienced a round of layoffs before the Bird acquisition, TechCrunch reported.
Lime recently announced it would lay off 14% of its workforce, or about 100 employees, as it works to become profitable in 2020, according to Axios. And Lyft announced in November 2019 that it would close operations in six cities, laying off 20 employees. The November Lyft announcement also followed Lyft's cuts to about 50 employees, many of whom came from the company's acquisition of e-bike sharing startup Motivate.
However, experts believe the consolidation trend is a sign that the market is maturing. Other signs that point toward a more profitable market include e-scooters' lengthening lifecycles and decreasing variable costs like battery charging, maintenance and repairs.