In just over one month a new infestation has swept across southern and coastal California and it has resulted in BIRDs being killed everywhere. People aren’t just killing them, they’re torturing them by burning them, smearing feces on them and crushing them. It’s horrific and it’s, well, weird.
Okay, now that I have your attention, we’re not talking about our feathered friends here, but rather a new craze which was launched in several California cities just over a month ago. With names like BIRD, and Lime, and others, they are scooter devices which work on a pay to use principle (sort of like bicycles in some cities). It’s a new business concept developed by some former executives of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
It’s a clever idea, with an even more clever business model (I’ll give them that), but the whole concept has millions screaming foul from government officials down to citizens. They hit people, they get left in the streets to be tripped over and they’re everywhere out of the blue. They’re not regulated either. Now there’s even a guerrilla war being waged in the streets over these scooters, thousands of which have shown up without permits, dodging regulations and just generally running amok.
Here’s one article about the things…
So here’s how it works (basically)… You use a phone app to locate a available Bird (scooter). You find it and use your phone and a credit card to rent it. It costs a buck to unlock and about $0.15 per mile to ride. They have a range of about 10 miles, and a top speed of about 15mph. But when they run out of juice people just leave them laying all over the place (sidewalks, etc.). They don’t even have to run out of juice, maybe the person just got to where they were going and left it. Now here’s where the other half of the business model comes in. …
Other people sign up to be “Bird chargers”. They also use a phone app to find dead birds, round them up and charge them. Then they “release” the birds back into a “nest” (a series of central locations located around the city) where other people can pick them up and use them. A “charger” can pick them up with his/her car or whatever, then they bring them back to their own house and charge them…and later release them. For this, the “charger” receives a fee. The fee changes depending on how far and/or difficult it is to get to the dead bird, but generally ranges from around $6 to about $20 per bird. So, if you round up 6-10 birds a night you could make anywhere $36 up to $200.
Here’s a short video about the stir they’re causing in cities like San Francisco
It explains some of the legal issues associated with the scooters.
Here’s another video about how the whole “Bird Charging” thing works. It also shows more of how it works (not a bad video either)…
The whole thing is a pretty interesting concept really. The business model is unique, but where did these people get the capital to make such a mammoth investment? And how could they not have known there would be legal issues posing a risk…or that people would be taking a dump on their scooters, or burning them, or smashing them and putting them in dumpsters…or tossing them into the ocean.
What do you think?