High Gas Prices Could Boost E-Scooter and E-Bike Ridership, Bird CEO Says

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Bird scooters
Courtesy of Bird

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Electric scooter startup Bird more than doubled its revenues in 2021 as pandemic restrictions eased and riders returned to its shared micromobility network, while CEO Travis VanderZanden talked up the possibility of high gas prices forcing drivers to consider its electric vehicles instead.

On Tuesday, the Santa Monica-based company reported fourth-quarter revenues of $54 million that were up 126% from the same period in 2020. Likewise, Bird's full-year 2021 revenues of $205 million more than doubled the nearly $95 million that it generated in 2020. The startup continued to bleed money, however, with a net loss of nearly $40 million in the fourth quarter contributing to total losses exceeding $208 million last year.

Bird’s surging revenues were driven by rebounding ridership, with its total number of rides increasing more than 100% year-on-year in the fourth quarter “despite macro-related headwinds including the surge in Omicron cases late in the period,” VanderZanden said in the company’s earnings release.

With gas prices escalating thanks to inflation and geopolitical factors like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, VanderZanden noted on an earnings call Tuesday that those conditions could benefit Bird by spurring more drivers to eschew their gas-powered cars in favor of electric bikes and scooters.

“While nobody likes high gas prices, and we obviously don’t like how we got here, we do think elevated gas prices will likely accelerate transition to affordable microelectric vehicles such as Bird,” he said.

The company provided a 2022 revenue guidance of between $34 million to $36 million for its ongoing first quarter and at least $350 million for the full year, with both figures falling short of analyst expectations. Bird became a publicly traded company in November after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and now trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker BRDS.

Investors appeared to be underwhelmed by the company’s revenue guidance: Bird shares were down more than 6% in after-hours trading Tuesday after closing at $3.50.


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S.C. Stuart
S.C. Stuart is a foreign correspondent (ELLE China, Esquire Latin America), Contributing Writer at Ziff Davis PCMag, and consults as a futurist for Hollywood Studios. Previously, S.C. was the head of digital at Hearst Magazines International while serving as a Non-Executive Director, UK Trade & Investment (US) and Digital Advisor at The Smithsonian.
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