- Micromobility company Bird announced Wednesday it plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. It will merge with Switchback II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in a transaction expected to value the company at $2.3 billion.
- In a blog post announcing the SPAC, Bird CEO and Founder Travis VanderZanden said it is a "significant step on our journey to provide the world with safe, eco-friendly transportation." He said the merger with Switchback II will help accelerate that mission, and he pledged to offer more diverse vehicle types to help take into account the variety of trips people take in cities.
- A Bird spokesperson said in an email the transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021. It is the second micromobility company to announce it plans to go public this year, following Helbiz's announcement of a SPAC in February.
Bird has experienced huge growth since it began operations in 2017. In his blog post, VanderZanden said the company now has scooters in more than 200 cities around the world, which he noted helped quadruple the number of trips taken on micromobility devices from 35 million in 2017 to 136 million in 2019, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Bird's blog suggests the company is positioning itself to move beyond scooters, something its leading officials have been floating since before the coronavirus pandemic. Lime has already taken such steps by introducing e-mopeds to some markets this year. Some of Bird's competitors gave the company credit for its move to go public, and said it shows the health of the industry.
"This news speaks to the enormous value of the micromobility space," a Lime spokesperson said in an email. "It's great news for Bird, great news for similar companies, and ultimately great news for cities and all who will benefit from the ongoing revolution in transportation for short trips."
But the rivalry remains strong. The Lime spokesperson said Lime's own potential future valuation would "likely far surpass" Bird's $2.3 billion valuation, given Lime's profitability and the fact it believes it's three times the size of Bird on cumulative downloads, global market share and weekly active users. Indeed, Bird's private market valuation reportedly hit $2.8 billion in January 2020, but that took a hit during the pandemic.
This announcement also comes a few months after Helbiz said it would follow a similar path toward listing publicly on Nasdaq. That company, which bought Skip late last year, is expected to close on that transaction in the second quarter of 2021.
SPACs, meanwhile, have become an increasingly popular way for companies to list publicly on the stock market, as opposed to the more traditional initial public offering route that Uber, Lyft and Airbnb followed in previous years. The mechanism may be subject to further scrutiny from the federal government, however, with the Securities and Exchange Commission expected to start cracking down on the practice by the end of the summer.
VanderZanden said there is plenty more work to do in the transportation sector if it is to achieve the steep cuts in carbon emissions necessary to fight climate change.
"While this is a notable start, there’s more work to be done," he wrote. "We must make climate friendly transportation accessible to everyone if we’re to reverse the damage that the current transportation paradigm is doing to our planet."