Unagi Launches LA E-Scooter Subscription in Bird's Backyard

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Unagi Launches LA E-Scooter Subscription in Bird's Backyard

Betting city dwellers will not want to risk taking public transportation in the age of COViD-19 or touch a shared e-scooter, Unagi announced Wednesday it will launch a $39 a month subscription service in New York and Los Angeles.

"L.A. is the electric scooter epicenter of the world and it was always our number one target," Unagi co-founder and CEO David Hyman told dot.LA. "Nowhere else have I walked where I couldn't take two steps without tripping over a scooter."


L.A. became the e-scooter capital after Bird was founded in 2017 in Santa Monica and quickly grew into the fastest-growing tech startup in history. Bird, too, also offers monthly rentals, but it is a very small part of its business and is only available in San Francisco, Miami, Washington D.C., and select college campuses.

Until now, Unagi, which Hyman started in Oakland in 2018 with Kickstarter founding, has sold its stylish e-scooters for $990. But Hyman acknowledged that a lot of riders don't want to shell out a thousand dollars to buy one of their own. The company was planning to add a subscription option — Hyman is not a fan of the term rental — before COVID, but the pandemic accelerated those plans. (Unagi means freshwater eel in Japanese.)

"This model helps us bring it to a larger audience," said Hyman. "Millennials prefer access over ownership."

The company has drawn favorable comparisons; it's been called the Apple of e-scooters and says it aims to build a Tesla-quality e-scooter that feels like riding a magic carpet.

The new offering, Unagi All-Access, includes maintenance and insurance for scooter theft or damage for $39 a month — which the company points out is less than half the cost of a 30-day Metro pass — or $34 for one year commitment. There is also a onetime $50 set-up fee.

Once someone subscribes, the company delivers a fully-assembled Model One scooter to their door within 24 hours. If the scooter ever does not work properly, users will receive a replacement within 24 hours.

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10 TikTok Gadgets That Went Viral In 2022

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

10 TikTok Gadgets That Went Viral In 2022

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Disney Taps Bob Iger for CEO, Former Meta Exec Joins DeSo
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“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Swell Energy Lands $120M, Modyfi Draws in $8M
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