Emails show how $2 billion electric scooter startup Bird is copying Uber’s playbook to conquer new markets


Woman Bird electric scooter

US scooter startups such as Bird wouldn’t exist if Uber hadn’t pioneered its ride-sharing model around the world.
That’s because Uber paved the way in taking on entrenched transport rules and winning, if not always through legitimate means.
Uber came up with a new way of communicating with regulators, selling itself as a solution to city congestion, pollution, and car ownership.
Emails obtained by Business Insider show how scooter startup Bird has borrowed this language to try and win regulatory approval.

Make no mistake, if Uber didn’t exist, neither would the new crop of electric scooter startups that are currently exploding across the US right now.

Startups such as Bird, Lime, and Jump have taken off with their concept of spicing up the city commute with rented electric scooters. Riders can simply find an electric scooter, use an app to “unlock” it, and then pay a small amount per minute of use.

All owe a debt to Uber. The ride-hailing company pioneered the idea of on-demand transport powered by an app, and it was nothing short of a revolution. With that concept firmly embedded in commuters’ minds, the idea of dockless bicycles and hired electric scooters doesn’t seem quite so crazy.

As others have pointed out, there are other similarities between Uber and scooter-hire companies. The most obvious is investing huge amounts of capital to expand quickly and flood the market with product, be that private hire vehicles or electric scooters.

And the Uber comparisons don’t end with the business model.

Emails obtained by Business Insider through a Freedom of Information request show how Bird is also copying Uber’s language in its communications with government and regulators as it bids to crack new markets.

Those emails not only reveal how Bird is lobbying to allow electric scooters in the UK, where they are illegal, but also how Uber has influenced the way the company is selling itself to regulators and the government.

Here are five ways Bird is copying Uber:

1. We reduce car ownership

One of the cleverest Silicon Valley tricks Uber pulled off was selling the narrative that its service isn’t about providing cheap cabs, but about killing the car.

The company has long billed itself as the alternative to unsustainable car ownership, a concept it also uses to combat accusations that its drivers increase city congestion and, by extension, pollution.

Bird’s European chief, Patrick Studener, echoed that language in an email to London’s transport regulator, Transport for London (TfL, in April about how electric scooters can reduce car ownership.

“At Bird we are still very young but our mission is to get more cars off the road and help give cities back to the people who live in them,” he enthused. “We figured a good place to start might be the roughly 40% of all car rides that are less than 3km long and replacing them with electronic scooters.”

2. We decrease pollution and congestion

The natural corollary of boasting about reduced car ownership is that you can also boast that you help reduce CO2 emissions, city congestion, and pollution.

In January …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

      

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