Bird, the shared electric scooter startup that operates in more than 200 cities across three continents, said Wednesday it is going public by merging with special purpose acquisition company Switchback II with an implied valuation of $2.3 billion. The announcement confirms earlier reports, including one this week from dot.LA, that Bird intended to go public via a SPAC.
Bird said it was able to raise $160 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE, by institutional investor Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, and others. Apollo Investment Corp. and MidCap Financial Trust provided an additional $40 million asset financing. (Disclaimer: Apollo is buying Verizon Media Group, which owns TechCrunch.)
The transaction will enable the combined entity to retain net proceeds of up to $428 million of cash, according to Switchback, which brings $316 million cash-in-trust to the table. The announcement also provided new information about a previously undisclosed $208 million, which Bird raised privately as part of an April 2021 Senior Preferred Convertible equity offering led by Bracket Capital, Sequoia Capital and Valor Equity Partners.
When and how Bird would go public has been an item of speculation after Bloomberg reported last November that the company received “inbound interest” from SPACs.
Bird’s ride has been bumpy at times. In 2020, revenue dropped to $95 million, or 37% from the previous year. That year the company also laid off around 30% of its workforce — 406 people — for cost-saving reasons. The company may use this new access to cash to expand its European operations and pay off debt.
Most importantly, the new injection of cash may help the company finally achieve profitability. It’s a rarity amongst scooter startups, which face notoriously high overhead.
“We plan to scale our platform to provide our low carbon transportation services to more people in more cities around the world, as well as create further operational efficiencies across our network,” a Bird spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’re also planning to introduce additional form factors such as bikes to help replace more gas-powered car trips, which will open up another new revenue stream for us.”
Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have become a popular route for going public amongst transportation startups. Already this year, scooter company Helbiz, which is based in Europe and the U.S., went public via SPAC in a merger with GreenVision Acquisition Corp. SPAC shell corporations allow companies to list on the Nasdaq without doing a traditional initial public offering.
The story was updated to reflect the number of cities in which Bird operates, Bird’s comments and Apollo’s purchasing of Verizon Media Group, which owns TechCrunch.