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Scooter start-up Bird acquires German rival Circ and raises $75 million

People ride Bird scooters
Santa Monica-based Bird said it has raised an additional $75 million from investors. Above, people ride Bird scooters in Los Angeles in 2018.
(Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)

Fewer people rent scooters in the winter. Bird Rides Inc., one of the world’s largest providers of electric scooter rentals, is using the time to prepare for expansion.

The Santa Monica company said Monday that it’s acquiring Circ, a German rival, for an undisclosed sum. Bird also said it raised an additional $75 million from investors on top of a $275-million round disclosed in October. The funding round valued the business at about $2.5 billion.

As a result of the acquisition, Bird will add more than 300 employees in Europe, helping it inch closer in the region to San Francisco-based competitor Lime.

Travis VanderZanden, Bird’s chief executive, has said he is focused on getting his company closer to breaking even on its scooter business and suggests Circ’s team can help. “We like their laser focus on treating cities as their No. 1 customer and their mind-set of prioritizing profitability over growth,” VanderZanden said in an emailed statement.

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Founded in 2017, Bird became one of the youngest start-ups ever to reach unicorn status: a valuation exceeding $1 billion. It expanded aggressively by hiring in the United States and abroad, developing custom scooters and acquiring companies, including a San Francisco start-up called Scoot in June.

But investors’ excitement for scooters has cooled recently. In November, Lyft Inc. said it was pulling scooters from six cities and dismissing staffers to focus on other markets. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Richard Corbett, the head of the United Kingdom and Ireland for Bird, was leaving the company. Since launching in London in 2018, Bird has struggled to deploy its scooters there as a result of tight regulation. Corbett said lawmakers’ focus on Brexit hampered the company’s ability to secure approvals.


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