Cities around the world are in lockdown. No one is commuting, walking, or biking around unless they absolutely need to, and if so, with heavy protection from a face mask, gloves, and 6-feet of space, when at all possible. The thought of being out in public, having to touch handrails on stairs, or a pole in a subway, or the handlebars on a rent-a-scooter is terrifying.
That's a huge problem for scooter rental startups right now.
Revel ($PRIVATE:GOREVEL) and Lime ($PRIVATE:LIMEBIKE) were in the news last week for noble reasons, each offered free memberships and free rides to healthcare workers, as well as partnerships with delivery workers. The third rival in this industry, Bird ($PRIVATE:BIRD), was in the news for all the wrong reasons, however, announcing layoffs and being outed as having a toxic work environment through some in-depth reporting.
But when we compare each of these three scooter competitors, we find one common throughline no matter what the news says about them: declining app ratings, falling employee counts, and a complete freeze on hiring.
Many companies attempt to rename, re-upload, or finagle their apps on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store to juice ratings or just reset the average review score. Bird has retitled its app three times and has seen the average drop each time; originally Bird on Android was at a 4.4/5 and now it sits at a 3.6/5 with more than 34K reviews in.
2020 was the end of job listings on the 'Careers' section of Bird's website, as the company has seemingly just stopped posting new positions, instead opting for a "you email us if you're interested" model of acquiring new talent.
Since the end of March there has been a 17% decrease in people listing Bird as their employer on LinkedIn. You can see the slow trickle of people laid off begin to list themselves as no longer at Bird, day by day.
Revel has also seen its average review score drop from a 4.5/5 to a 3.5/5, which makes us think scooter fans are just harsh critics.
Another eerie similarity with Bird is that the job openings section of Revel's website just goes to a 404 error page. The company stopped hiring on March 13th, and whatever positions were available have been stagnant and unchanged for over a month.
It seems like no scooter app can hold a 4.5/5 on any platform, although Lime fared the best by holding steady at an average rating of 4 with over 100K reviews logged on the Google Play Store.
Unlike its other two scooter rivals, you can access the job listings page on the Lime website! Unfortunately, the number of available jobs at Lime fell 83% since mid-March, meaning the company is really slowing down the rate of its growth right now. At a time when the sharing economy has ground to a standstill, it seems all but certain that the shared scooter market is hard-hit.
Lime was on a tear, hitting 1,500 employees in December, only to see that number gradually dip 15% over the course of 2020. Will any of these scooter startups manage to ride out the global pandemic and go back to the success they were all seeing last year?
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.