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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

1 hour ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Rising rates may hammer the stock market

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Stocks are much more vulnerable to interest rate swings than they used to be.

Why it matters: A sharp rise in rates in early 2022 is the key reason the stock market is off to an ugly start. And with the Federal Reserve making noise about trying to keep inflation in check, rates could go higher.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal complicates Big Tech regulation

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Microsoft's surprise $68 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard is adding a fresh twist to the heated debate over which tech companies have monopolies that need to be reined in.

The big picture: The deal could force a question the company has happily ducked for a decade: whether its size and power make it just as deserving of regulatory scrutiny as its Big Tech rivals.