Going about 15 mph on the open tech highway, micromobility company Bird was apparently also unable to avoid clotheslining itself on a proverbial open car door. In filings sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Bird said it has overestimated its revenues for the last couple years starting in the first quarter or 2020.
The company said its financial statements for the past several years “should no longer be relied upon,” after the company conducted an internal audit and found that there was an error with some of the company’s financial statements, including revenue that came from customers using their e-scooters and e-bikes. Bird wrote that it had been recording extra fares from certain accounts, even though these users had “insufficient preloaded ‘wallet’ balances.” This may have resulted in more revenue for rides that weren’t actually paid for.
Before we start making Icarus jokes at the expense of Bird, it’s unclear how much these discrepancies in its financial books have made a difference for total revenue. A company spokesperson told Gizmodo that they plan to release their Q3 results by the end of Monday after markets close. Execs are expected to address the financial issues and what they mean for the company going forward. But whatever the change might be, it probably won’t do much to massage any investors’ feelings toward the micromobility company.
After announcing a big push into cities such as New York, Bird went public at the tail end of 2021. Since then, 2022 has proved hard for the brand, as the company’s Q1 report for 2022 showed it was losing revenue from shared rides quarter to quarter, from about $9 million in revenue to $4 million. During its latest Q2 financial report, Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said his company was looking to “scale” its ride sharing business.
Earlier this year, Bird cut 23% of staff, approximately 140 workers, according to a tweet by the Twitter bot Layoffs.fyi and confirmed by TechCrunch. Though this means the company was just joining many other big tech layoffs this year.
Then last month, the e-scooter maker announced it was trying to “refocus,” meaning Bird was exiting operations in Germany, Sweden and Norway while scaling back in several dozen small-to-mid sized cities in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Bird is just one of several companies that allows folks to rent e-bikes and e-scooters to zip around helmetless and heedless through the tight streets of many cities worldwide, leading to a rash of injuries and even a few fatalities over the past few years. A recently-released report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said that from 2017 to 2021, there were 267,700 emergency room visits related to micromobility tech. Of those, 117,600 emergency room visits were connected to e-scooters. 44% of those reported injuries were linked to rentable scooters according to a special study on the products. There were 68 recorded fatalities linked to e-scooters in those four years.