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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Scooter company Lime is laying off about 14% of its workforce (roughly 100 employees) and shuttering operations in 12 markets as it seeks to become profitable this year, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: After two years of explosive growth, scooter companies have entered a new phase—survival of the fittest in a capital-intensive, money-losing industry.

The big picture: Lime is not the first or only scooter company to make cuts.

  • Bird, Scoot, Lyft, and Skip have all held layoffs or retreated from certain markets over the past year.
  • Lime too has made small cuts, as when it suspended operations and laid off workers in St. Louis in late 2018, though it emphasizes to Axios that it will continue to expand to new markets this year.
  • The companies have generated headlines for huge losses as they attempt to manage vehicle attrition, labor costs, and regulatory battles.

What they're saying: "We’re very confident that in 2020, Lime will be the first next-generation mobility company to be profitable," Lime president Joe Kraus tells Axios.

  • He said that projection is based in part on improvements to Lime scooters' longevity, which in 2019 went from from six months to about 14 months.

In between the lines: Kraus also refuted rumors that Lime is actively raising a new round of funding despite months of ongoing rumors that the company was running out of cash and looking for a fresh infusion. (Meanwhile, rival Bird announced in October $275 million in new funds.)

  • Kraus added that the company is not looking to sell but could be interested in being on the other side of the M&A table.
  • "We always look opportunistically in being a buyer," he said.

Details: Lime is ending operations in 12 markets where it says business was underperforming.

  • In the US: Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio.
  • In Latin America: Bogota, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lima, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
  • In Europe: Linz (Austria).

Editor's note: The story has been updated to show that scooter longevity was previously six months (not weeks).

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.