The electric scooter wars of 2018

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Massive funding rounds, acquisitions and legislative hurdles characterize the year of the electric scooter

This was undoubtedly the year of the electric scooter. Between massive fundraising rounds, lofty valuations and both Uber and Lyft’s entrance into the space, it’s clear these scooters are here for the long haul.

But just because investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into these companies in the past year, the electric scooter business is not without its difficulties. In fact, it’s an immensely difficult business with tough unit economics, regulatory challenges on a city-by-city basis, and a ridiculous number of competitors vying for the micro-mobility services market share.

It’s only a matter of time before consolidation becomes the only way to survive and, already, we’ve started to see some early signs of that with Uber’s partnership with Lime, as well as Ford’s acquisition of Spin. Let’s take a look at how the industry got to where it is today.

Bird, currently valued north of $2 billion, was the first electric scooter company to launch, having first deployed in September 2017 in Santa Monica, Calif. One year later, Bird announced it hit 10 million rides across its 100-plus cities and over 2 million riders at the time.

Then came Spin, which started as a bike-share startup. In February, Spin announced its plans to get into electric scooter sharing before ultimately deciding in June that it was going all in on scooters. Fast forward to November, and Ford decided to gobble up Spin in a deal worth close to $100 million.

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