One of, if not the, hottest companies in the startup world right now is Bird Scooters. The startup launched less than two years ago and recently raised a monster $300M round of funding at a valuation north of $1B. This has left many people scratching their heads but some of the top VCs in the world have chimed in to share why they believe in the company and don’t think it’s valuation is as crazy as you might think.
Count me in the initial skeptics. The company launched a trial service in Santa Monica just last year and when I first saw the scooters (parked literally outside of our office) I was convinced nobody would want to ride them. Over the course of the first few months I saw a few people out on the street taking Birds and then a steady uptick in riders. The initial usage ramped up to such a heavy level that I would stare out of my 6th floor office while on phone calls and literally watch 5 Birds pass our office every 2–3 minutes. The volume grew so steady that I finally hopped on one, rode down to Bird’s offices and pleaded with Travis to take money from us. I had literally never seen a consumer phenomenon take off so quickly. (Source – Both Sides Of The Table)
I personally have experienced the Bird phenomenon living in SF. At first I thought, okay all these scooters are stupid, why not just ride a bike? But I kept seeing them, everywhere, and I just couldn’t help myself, so I downloaded the app, created my account and hopped on a scooter.
It blew my mind. Yes, it sounds crazy but it is completely different from riding a bike. San Francisco has a LOT of hills which makes biking a pretty challenging form of personal transportation since you’re likely to arrive at your destination sweating through your shirt and completely out of breath. With a scooter I can zip around the city from one place to another and usually at about one fifth of the cost of Uber/Lyft.
What also surprised me about Bird is that they build a billion dollar company in under two years, and they did it all while branding on a .CO domain – Bird.co. As I’ve said many times before, I think that all companies should own their .COM, especially consumer-facing companies, but if you’re an APP I do think it’s a lot less important since people typically aren’t looking for you online, they’re searching in the app store.
If you go to the iTunes app store on your phone and search for Bird, Bird Scooters is at the top, and that’s really all they have needed to make it easy for consumers to find and download their app. I thought it would be interesting to see what was on Bird.com, and not surprisingly, it’s a bird-related site.
Will Bird Scooters ever buy Bird.com? That is still to be seen, but I can tell you, it doesn’t look like not having the .COM is holding them back in any way.