Bird Spreads Its Wings and Acquires Circ

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1Q 2020 | IN-5738

Micro-mobility is expanding. A market that originally started solely with bike sharing systems—which have seen several generations—now includes pedal bikes, electric bikes, electric kick scooters, and even electric mopeds. Service providers wish to innovate the way in which cities can reduce their carbon footprint.

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An American Leader Acquires Again


American based micro-mobility company Bird, founded in 2017, has confirmed its acquisition of European based micro-mobility company Circ for an undisclosed cost. This isn’t the first acquisition Bird has made; it also acquired West Coast viral Scoot in January 2019.

Circ has 3 million registered users over the 40+ countries it operated in, which will add to the large user base that Bird already has. So, not only is Bird expanding geographically, but it will also be expanding its audience, which will increase its profitability, as more rides taken by a larger number of riders means that the company will receive more revenue, which as a standard is US$3 to US$5 per ride.

Europe Is in Bird's Eyes


As with Bird’s previous acquisition of Scoot, acquiring Circ allows Bird to penetrate wider markets more efficiently. Acquiring Scoot found Bird able to re-enter San Francisco after having been booted out of the city in 2018. Circ has a large share of the European market and also has deployments within the Middle Eastern region.

Bird was the first provider to deploy its scooters across the North American region, and originally didn’t expand any further than that. Three years after it was founded, however, international expansion has fallen upon it. The acquisition of the European Circ will allow Bird to branch out into both European and Middle Eastern countries. Lime, also America-based, is Bird’s largest competitor and offers its services in more than 30 countries, despite having cut back services in 12 cities to improve profitability.

This acquisition is about expanding Bird’s presence in the international market alongside its competitor Lime, whereas the acquisition of Scoot was about growing at a faster rate and offering a range of electric-assisted vehicles to replace car trips around the world.

Larger Numbers Cause Larger Consequences


Scooter services providers need to make decisions about acquisitions carefully. The end goal for any business model is to become profitable, which, for ride sharing services of any transportation mode, subsequently means having a larger number of rides taken. This is easier with a larger fleet available within the market, but it can cause various problems.

Electric scooters have raised safety concerns in many cities due to reports of serious and fatal incidents, resulting in city leaders enforcing regulations on e-scooter providers, which can cause problems for operators expanding their fleets. One of the significant issues that has arisen from the deployment of electric kick-scooters is that they are not to be ridden on sidewalks in order to avoid endangering pedestrians and therefore must be used specifically on the roads. However, in specific zones this could pout riders at risk .

One requirement for cities is that the scooters not be ridden at a speed over 15mp/h, which is lower than the majority of speed limits for cars. Due to the nature of the design of the scooters, it is possible that their wheels could get caught in cracks in the road, or that users could find the journey especially slippery depending on weather conditions. This, combined with some drivers being ignorant of other road users, can cause incidents. Increasing the number of scooters that are being deployed means that further safety concerns will arise. Additionally, as the market matures, it will become increasingly more difficult for providers to up their number of scooters after a set number has been deployed into cities.

City officials in a number of cities globally have already requirements for providers that need to be met to be able to enter their cities in place. San Francisco, for example, put a requirement in place that prevented Bird from offering its service to the city’s residents prior to its acquisition of Scoot, which was the introduction of permits. Without a permit being attained, a service provider is unable to deploy its products and services.  



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