Lime and Bolt Abruptly Yank E-Scooters From Multiple Markets Across the U.S.

Photo: MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP (Getty)

Electric scooter company Lime is laying off more than 10 percent of its workforce and pulling its scooters from roughly a dozen major global cities as its competitor Bolt, too, has yanked its e-scooters from city streets in multiple U.S. markets, Gizmodo has learned.

Lime announced the move in a blog post from the company’s CEO and co-founder Brad Bao that characterized the decision as a necessary measure to “achieving financial independence.” Though Lime operated in more than 120 markets, Bao said, “there are select communities throughout the world where micromobility has evolved more slowly.” Axios first reported the news on Thursday.

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Lime’s affected U.S. markets include Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Antonio. Additionally, the company will be pulling from operation in Linz, Austria as well as Bogota, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lima, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo. In a statement, Bao indicated that the company may return to the cities at some point in the future.

“Financial independence is our goal for 2020, and we are confident that Lime will be the first next-generation mobility company to reach profitability,” Bao said in the statement shared with Gizmodo. “We are immensely grateful for our team members, riders, Juicers, and cities who supported us, and we hope to reintroduce Lime back into these communities when the time is right.”

A spokesperson told Gizmodo roughly 100 employees are being laid off, or about 14 percent of the company’s workforce. The company told Gizmodo that advanced notice was given to municipalities ahead of it pulling scooters from service.

Separately, Gizmodo has learned that Florida-based e-scooter company Bolt has pulled out of some of its own U.S. markets, though the company declined to specify which were affected and said only that it continues to operate in “select markets.” But a survey of the markets listed through the Bolt mobile app seems to indicate that South Florida is the only market where the company is still operating at scale, as indicated by the dozens of tiny scooter icons peppering the map.

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This is not the case in any of the other U.S. cities listed by the Bolt app. DC Metro, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Nashville, Portland, Richmond, and Roanoke displayed either blank maps or showed just one or two scooters available for the entire region. Three markets—Atlanta, DC, and Nashville—showed only five available scooters total between all of them. When asked about this, the company then told Gizmodo it was operating primarily in Florida but said there was “activity” in other regions as well.

In December, Chris Chittum, City Planning Director for Roanoke—one market where the scooters have been pulled from service—told CBS-affiliated WDBJ that the company had picked them up and that the city was “unclear what their plans are at this point.” Chittum confirmed to Gizmodo on Thursday that the scooters were still out of operation as of this week.

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“They’re still absent in our market,” Chittum said. “Before that happened, their local GM advised they were pulling them off the street for maintenance and inventory in advance of a weekend of wintry weather. Of course, they never reappeared.”

Memphis, another city where the Bolt scooters were deployed as a partner in its Shared Mobility Program, has also seen a Bolt departure. A city spokesperson told Gizmodo by email that the company notified Memphis officials that it was leaving toward the end of December.

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“Bolt has been a good partner in [the] city’s Shared Mobility Program, and we regret to see it leave,” the spokesperson said.

Bolt announced in December that it had named Julia Steyn, an alum of General Motors’ urban mobility arm, as CEO of the company. The company said this week that Steyn had been brought into the role to grow the business moving forward but declined to comment further on the decision to scale back its operations at this time.

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While Bolt’s motives are somewhat unclear, the decision follows similar moves by rival micromobility outfits competing for market dominance nationwide. Lyft announced in November that it was pulling from six major U.S. markets, with a spokesperson telling TechCrunch at the time that the company planned on “continuing to invest in growing our bike and scooter business, but will shift resources away from smaller markets and toward bigger opportunities.”

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