E-scooters seemed like a good idea at the time, around 2017. California-based scooter startups Lime ($PRIVATE:LIMEBIKE) and Bird ($PRIVATE:BIRD) saw an opportunity to make transit convenient, environmentally friendly, and even fun. But their vision has been falling apart at the seams.
The environmental boon of people choosing to travel by e-scooter instead of a car is offset by the gig workers who have to drive around to charge and fix the scooters. There’s also the lack of job security for those workers, the potential rider injuries, and the public nuisance of sidewalks and streets littered with scooters.
Now, these companies are struggling to respond to Coronavirus, as former riders self-quarantine. Lime is currently trying to raise emergency funds through new investors at a $400 million valuation, down 80% from 2019.
The company has shut down its scooter-rental operations in all but one market and has between $50 million and $70 million of cash left, The Information reports. That money is expected to only last a few months, even as the company lays off its staff. Since last week, Lime has cut job openings by 42%. Lime has already laid off over 100 employees from its 600-person staff this year, and the company plans to continue downsizing its team.
The review count for Lime in the Apple ($AAPL) has continued to rise, but more reviews don't always mean good reviews. As Coronavirus spreads and scooters disappear in cities around the world, the company's faults are laid bare by the remaining few. Recent review subject lines read, "The worst bike app," "Do not use," and "Wouldn't know."
The post-Corona world might be one without electric scooters. We'll survive.
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