Travis VanderZanden is perhaps one of the best known electric scooter startup founders in the business. Although his business, Bird, competes with the likes of Uber and Lyft these days, VanderZanden has been all-in on micromobility since 2017, when Bird deployed its first batch of scooters on the streets of Santa Monica.
Since then, the scooter industry has taken off with many new entrants to the space, and Bird hitting a ~$2 billion valuation. The rise of electric scooters is often compared to the rise of ride-hailing, but there are some key differences at play. For one, cities are in charge of regulation — not the states. And since these are much smaller vehicles, cities can easily pick them up and throw them in the back of a truck if they become a nuisance. Meanwhile, as part of city regulation, data-sharing is not optional — it’s a requirement in order for companies to receive permission to deploy scooters on city streets.
Bird has also made waves with its alternative business models. In addition to running a shared electric scooter business, Bird now sells scooters direct-to-consumers, operates a monthly rental program and enables entrepreneurs to run their own shared scooter businesses through Bird Platform. Most recently, Bird unveiled a two-seater electric vehicle to become more than just a kick scooter company.
This has all happened under the leadership of VanderZanden. Before VanderZanden started Bird, he spent time at both Uber and Lyft. At Uber, VanderZanden was VP of growth and was COO at Lyft, which had acquired his on-demand car wash business, Cherry, in 2013.
At TechCrunch Disrupt SF, I’ll be chatting with VanderZanden about the rise of micromobility, the challenges that come with running a business in the space and what lies ahead for Bird.
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