Two developments to watch in the scooter sector this week. Lime on Wednesday confirmed a $310 million financing from a group that included Bain Capital as a new investor, valuing the company at $2.3 billion. The funding was much needed: The company in the second half of last year was spending money at a rate that gave them only about six months of capital left. The funding now gives Lime room for more expansion, especially when the weather warms up in the spring. Bird has also secured hundreds of millions of dollars more recently, although it took both companies longer than hoped to raise.
One thing that has started to caution investors: The increased scrutiny from cities, users and lawyers on the number of serious injuries piling up from electric scooters. Consumer Reports reported on Tuesday night it found 1,500 people across the U.S. were in e-scooter-related crashes since late 2017. One of the handful of e-scooter deaths also came on a Lime scooter in Austin recently. A 24-year-old riding the e-scooter was hit by a car at nearly 1 a.m., which is one of the most dangerous times to ride. Lime has continued to operate scooters late at night despite some cities asking them to limit their hours, we reported last week.
Executives and advocates for scooters and other short-distance transportation options point to cars as the biggest threat to transportation safety. Sticking to that line works in an ideal world, but ignores other realities. Scooters, often deployed in cities by venture-backed companies in public spaces with limited oversight and policies, still have much to prove that they can manage sophisticated transportation networks, from hardware improvements to regulatory adherence.