Jan 9, 2020

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.

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

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

Bird acquires European scooter startup Circ

Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Bird has acquired European scooter rental rival Circ, founded by Delivery Hero co-founder Lukasz Gadowski, and has raised an additional $75 million for its Series D round (for a total of $350 million). Bird's pre-money valuation remains $2.5 billion, per a source.

Why it matters: After a growth-at-all-costs first couple of years, scooter companies now have to build a sustainable business, continue to expand, and cut their losses if it's not working. And the deal could give Bird a leg up in winning over European regulators by partnering with a local company.

The Financial Times first reported the companies were in talks for a deal.

Keep ReadingArrowJan 27, 2020

Layoffs begin at SoftBank-backed delivery company Rappi

Rappi logo

Rappi, an on-demand delivery startup operating in Latin America, this week laid off hundreds of employees, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: On-demand delivery of meals and other products is coming under increased financial pressure, as no one has managed to make the model profitable.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020