Los Angeles-based micromobility company Bird is looking to trim down, at the cost of hundreds of jobs. The shared electric scooter company has reportedly let go 23% of its employees in its latest round of layoffs.
Particularly hard hit was Bird’s consumer product division, which expanded to include electric bikes and electric scooters that were designed for direct-to-consumer sales, in addition to Bird’s shared electric scooter operations.
As Michael Browne explained on LinkedIn:
Today I learned just how risky a job at a startup can be. What seemed like a great opportunity a few months ago has quickly vanished as Bird today laid off 23% of its workforce and shuttered its consumer products division, along with myself as Director of Marketing, Consumer Products.
The move comes after Bird hinted in its Q1 2022 earnings report that cost-cutting measures would be necessary soon.
The company explained to TechCrunch that current economic trends were partly responsible for the layoffs:
“While the need for and access to micro-electric vehicle transportation has never been greater, macro economic trends impacting everyone have resulted in an acceleration of our path to profitability. This path required us to reduce our cost structure in a way that allows us to responsibly and sustainably expand our service beyond the more than 400 cities we operate in today as climate action has never been more paramount. In addition to eliminating all non-critical third party spend, we also unfortunately had to depart with a number of team members who passionately helped create a new industry and paved the way for more eco-friendly transportation.”
The writing may have been on the wall for Bird for some time. After going public via a SPAC late last year, the company’s stock is down over 90% in barely seven months.
It’s quite a fall from grace for a company that was once at the top of the electric scooter-sharing world, bursting onto the scene in late 2017 and early 2018 as it helped a nascent scooter-sharing industry go gangbusters.
This isn’t the first time Bird has taken drastic measures and cut back on a huge portion of its workforce. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Bird laid off around 30% of its workforce but was able to recover, in part due to the skyrocketing popularity of micromobility during the pandemic.
While micromobility remains incredibly popular, this time Bird is weathering the current storm in a very different economic environment.
Without a consumer products division, Bird will have to rely heavily on its electric scooter sharing operations to make a lean return to profitability.
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