Dec 12, 2019

Scooter company Spin's San Francisco workers unionize

Photo: Interim Archives/Getty Images

San Francisco-based maintenance workers for Spin, a scooter rental company owned by Ford, have voted to unionize and joined a local Teamsters chapter, making them the first in the scooter industry to do so.

Why it matters: Scooter companies ruffled a lot of feathers when they showed up in San Francisco (and other cities), which has long been skeptical of tech companies using independent contractors to skirt some labor costs.

  • The union vote applies to the roughly 40 workers responsible for maintenance and managing Spin's scooters available in San Francisco. Spin operates in numerous other U.S. cities, and it's unclear if workers elsewhere will also unionize.

The big picture: Spin initially began operating in San Francisco in the spring of 2018, along with rivals Bird and Lime, before all three companies were forced off the streets by regulators. In total, 12 companies subsequently applied for a year-long pilot program, though only Skip and Scoot were ultimately given a license at that stage.

Between the lines: Spin began working with the Teamsters months ago while it was waiting for the San Francisco transportation agency to issue operating permits (it did not get one for the earlier pilot program, in part for poor labor practices), as the SF Examiner reported at the time.

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E-scooter startup Lime shuts in 12 markets, lays off around 100

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.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020

Cafe X shuts some of its robot coffee shops

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cafe X, an operator of robotic coffee shops, has closed its three San Francisco locations and laid off their staffs, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Robots have been hailed as the future of food service, but as Cafe X and pizza-making robot startup Zume are finding, it's not so easy.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

Layoffs are the latest trend for on-demand companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A number of on-demand services companies are turning to layoffs to trim costs and shore up their balance sheets.

Why it matters: After years of seeing their unprofitable growth subsidized by plentiful venture dollars, companies are facing increased pressure to prove they can stand on their own two feet.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020