Electric scooter sharing start-ups are raising funds at a furious pace

Bird, the electric scooter sharing start-up, is already flying high. Just a year old, the company is in talks to raise $200 million in funding at a $1.5 billion valuation. This comes days after it secured $150 million at an $850 million valuation, as part of the same round. Even by Silicon Valley’s standards, this is both odd and a big price spike. Compare it with Uber, which needed four years to hit unicorn status. One can see the appeal. Less clunky than bikes, users can unlock one of Bird’s motorised scooters using a smartphone. A rider can then leave it anywhere for the next user to pick up. At a cost of just $1 in upfront fees and 15 cents a minute, it beats hailing an Uber or a Lyft. But its path to US pavement dominance is littered with cracks, some big ones. The first issue is competition. Rival Lime has also been raising funds at a furious pace while car hailing giants Uber and Lyft are looking to bring their war chests to the scooter battle… Then there are the operating costs. For the business to work, users need to be able to find e-scooters easily. This means hefty upfront costs in buying fleets of motorised scooters, flooding cities with them and hiring an army of contract workers to recharge them at night… Lastly, this all occurs in the United States of Litigation. Street mishaps are an inevitability. In the brewing electric scooter war, the winner may just be personal injury lawyers.