Bird Canada swoops in to rescue Bird Global; merger puts Canadian management and investors in control
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eBikes & eScooters
Jan 3, 2023
Mehanaz Yakub

The Canadian micro-mobility provider capped a successful fourth year of operations — over three million trips and eight million kilometres since launch — by merging with international platform operator Bird Global

Bird Global has announced it is merging with its more profitable Canadian subsidiary, in a move that will bring $32 million in additional capital and bring on board new management for the business. Photo: Bird Canada

The Canadian micro-mobility provider capped a successful fourth year of operations — over three million trips and eight million kilometres since launch — by merging with international platform operator Bird Global

Bird Canada, a leading Toronto-based electric scooter and bike-sharing company, is saving its financially struggling Miami-based international counterpart, Bird Global, in a merger that will provide Bird Global with US$32 million in capital.

The deal, first announced in late December and closed today, will also see the installation of new Canadian management at Bird Global in the roles of president, chief financial officer and vice-president, corporate development and strategy, and give Bird Canada’s funders five of nine seats on Bird Global’s board of directors.

Bird Canada, originally launched in 2019, operates on Bird Global’s platform — which includes branding, vehicles and technology — but is independently owned.

“We are excited to join the Bird leadership team as they continue their global leading platform in micromobility,” said John Bitove, chair of Bird Canada, in a press release. “We have operated profitably in Canada since we launched the business and we believe our management team’s maniacal operating focus on profitability and customer service will help drive Bird’s global business to new heights.”

Bird Canada currently operates in 10 cities across the country including Ottawa, Windsor, Airdrie, Calgary, Edmonton, Leduc, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Red Deer and St-Albert.

Over the last four years, Bird Canada says its e-scooters and e-bikes have been used by Canadians for more than three million trips traveling eight million kilometres.

“This year, more than ever, Canadians have demonstrated that they are embracing the transportation modal shift — increased e-scooters and e-bikes trips show that micromobility vehicles are a reliable, safe and sustainable way to travel, and we cannot wait to bring our technology to more Canadian cities in 2023,” said Bird Canada COO Alexandra Petre in a November statement marking the close of its 2022 season.

Bird Global’s struggles

Unlike its Canadian merger partner, over the last year, Bird Global has been struggling financially.

The company laid off 23 per cent of its workforce in June and pulled out operations in some European markets, including Germany, Sweden and Norway. According to Bird Global’s Q3 2022 financial reports, the company lost $322 million in the first nine months of last year. Its financial statement added a “going concern” warning that if it couldn’t raise enough money, Bird Global would need to cut back operations or seek bankruptcy protection.

The merger with Bird Canada is meant to add “additional profitable operations to Bird’s global platform while consolidating North American operations,” says Bird Global.

Stewart Lyons, Bird Canada’s CEO, is expected to now join Bird Global as president. Bitove, meanwhile, becomes vice-president, corporate development and strategy, while Michael Washinushi, most recently CFO for FreshBooks, becomes CFO.

“After four years of building the most successful operator in the Bird Global network, we are very excited to bring our lean operating philosophy and proven experience in shared micromobility to Bird Global,” says Lyons.

Bitove, a co-founder of investment firm Obelysk, a Bird Canada funder, also joins Bird Global’s board of directors. Antonio Occhionero, managing partner at MacKinnon, Bennett & Co., and Kevin Talbot, managing partner of Relay Ventures — Bird Canada’s other primary funders — will join him.

Those three firms also have the right to designate two other directors when the proposed transaction closes.

Bird Canada’s measured success

At the forefront of its business operations, Bird Canada says it’s been striving to create a more sustainable future by reducing gas-powered car trips, decreasing traffic congestion and lowering carbon emissions. According to Bird Canada, by opting to ride an e-scooter or an e-bike in 2022, thousands of Bird riders avoided 552,810 car trips.

“We’re thrilled to see the significant economic impact Bird Canada has contributed to over the last four years”, says Lyons, in a press note. “Studies show that 2.5 e-scooter or e-bike trips replace a car journey.”

As well as impressive user numbers, the average individual trip length for Bird’s e-scooters and e-bikes increased 39 per cent year-on-year, climbing from 2.20 km in 2021 to 3.05 km in 2022.

Calgary recorded the most rides last year, along with the longest trip of 2022 — with one customer travelling 68 km in a single ride. Edmonton saw the highest number of journeys from one rider, with over 1,000 rides between May and November 2022.

Additionally, Bird Canada reports that its consumers supported local businesses directly on 69 per cent of journeys, spending an average of $38 per trip. In total, it says its users contributed an estimated $32.8 million to the economy by supporting local businesses in 2022.

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