Bird Files for Bankruptcy Protections – Culver City’s Only Vendor for E-Scooters Looks to Reorganize

Bird, the electric scooter company, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. The vehicle rental company, which launched in 2017 with great expectations, has struggled to stay upright. The scooters have led to injuries, deaths, lawsuits and plenty of vandalism.

The company has operated by distributing electric vehicles around cities, usually on sidewalks, and rents them by the minute using an app. At the end of the rental period, the rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve.

While the initial activation showed promise, the complications of getting customers to treat something they don’t own with respect seems to have been a losing battle. 

The city took on electric scooters as part of the Shared Micromobility Program that began in July 2018, and concluded in March of 2020.  Wheels , another e-scooter company, was authorized by the city but ended their connection with the program in August of 2020. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the e-scooter use, Wheels was the only company operating in Culver City.

In September of 2021, the City selected Bird as an addition operator. Bird launched its e-scooters in Culver City in November 2021. Bird has also offered e-bikes beginning in April 2022.

A Culver City ordinance, passed in August of 2022, regulated that scooters may be “ridden on streets with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less. Per state law, on streets with a speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour, scooters may only ride in a bike lane.” Helmets are also required. 

According to the New York Times, “[Bird] was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in September. That came after it admitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had overstated its revenue for more than two years; its founder, Travis Vander Zanden, left in June.”

Bird, based in Miami, Florida, has scooters on offer in 350 cities allover the world. Rental scooters have recently been banned in Paris, while privately owned scooters are still allowed. 

Bird’s Canadian and European businesses are not part of the bankruptcy, and will continue to operate.

While the company has raised enough funds to continue operating in the short term – $25 million in financing from Apollo Global Management – it will look into reorganization. 

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang