Bird still has a long way to go to reach profitability

Shared micromobility company Bird reported a somewhat head-scratching fourth quarter and full year 2022 earnings Friday morning. At first glance, Bird’s earnings show a company that beat Wall Street revenue expectations and is promising free cash flow positivity by the end of this year. But at second glance, that revenue beat isn’t as simple as it seems.

Bird reported revenue of $69.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2022, a big improvement from the $49.5 million reported in the same quarter of 2021. However, that Q4 revenue included $28.8 million of unredeemed preloaded wallet balances collected over the past two years. That means revenue for Q4 is more like $40.9 million — a dip from prior periods.

You might recall that in the third quarter of 2022, Bird reported to the SEC that it had overstated its revenue for the past two years. At the time, the company said it had recorded revenue on certain trips even when customers had lacked sufficient preloaded wallet balances. Bird has also underreported breakage in the past two years, which is the amount of money a customer leaves behind in their preloaded wallet balance. The $28.8 million is Bird’s attempt at playing catch up from those uncounted remainders, and while Bird says it will continue to report breakage as part of revenue in the future, this is pretty much a one-time sweetener to Bird’s top line.

For the sake of keeping things tidy, let’s just deal with the $40.9 million in revenue, which is Bird’s Q4 revenue minus the one-time sweetener. The total cost of revenue for the quarter is reported as $40.25 million, which means Bird barely broke even on a gross profit basis. Additionally, the company’s adjusted operating expenses were $42.3 million, which is a decrease of 29% year-over-year.

Shane Torchiana, Bird’s CEO as of September, told TechCrunch that the merger with Bird Canada in December may have driven up operating expenses slightly. That merger brought Bird around $32 million in new financing, money that Torchiana had previously told TechCrunch Bird needed to raise as part of its overhaul strategy to become profitable.

Another part of that strategy was exiting unprofitable markets. Last October, Bird left dozens of unprofitable markets across the U.S., as well as Norway, Sweden and Germany. Its smaller footprint is one reason the company says its ride revenue is much lighter than last year’s. The company also said the winter months mean fewer riders, and therefore, less revenue.

Revenue isn’t the only thing that’s down from the decreased footprint. Ride volume and rides per scooter fell in Q4 as compared to the same period last year. Bird recorded 8.2 million rides in Q4, which is down from 9.4 million in Q4 2021. For the full year, however, Bird reported a 16% increase in total rides.

However, looking at rides per deployed vehicle per day, Bird is getting less bang for its buck. In Q4 2021, Bird’s scooters got an average of 1.3 rides per day. That number fell to one ride per scooter per day in Q4 of 2022. For the full year, Bird’s scooters got 1.3 rides per day, down from 1.6 rides per day in 2021.

At first blush, the gross transaction value appears to have increased YoY — from $59.5 million in Q4 2021 to $74.8 million in Q4 2022. The company includes that $28.8 million in one-time revenue in its “Reconciliation of Gross Transaction Value to Revenue,”  as part of its gross transaction value. So really, that’s down YoY, as well.

Finally, as of December 31, 2022, Bird has $33.47 million in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents. At the end of 2021, the company had $128.56 million in cash. That money may not be enough to see Bird through to the end of 2023, and indeed the going concern warning the company issued last quarter is still very much in effect.

What Bird says about all this

Bird says despite all of this it is still focusing on profitability. The company aims to reach adjusted EBITDA this year in the range of $15 to $20 million, get to positive cash flow of $5 to $10 million, and bring its adjusted operating expenses down below $100 million. (Keep in mind in Q2 2022 alone, Bird’s operating expenses hit $225 million.)

“Obviously we’re in the midst of a transformation, and those numbers don’t fully flow through in Q4,” said Torchiana, who took over as CEO in September and has since implemented a new strategy of cutting costs and increasing asset efficiency. “You’ll see a lot more of the cost reductions [from the past few months] in Q1 [2023].”

Bird also said it hopes to see a 10% to 20% improvement in asset utilization, starting in Q2, as a result of rolling out a new drop engine that has a more data driven approach to where the company places its vehicles and when it rebalances vehicles it’s used in the past. Torchiana says this new system is being trialed in certain markets.

Bird’s stock was trading at $0.18 at market close on Thursday. The company received a warning from the New York Stock Exchange last year that its stock was trading too low, and the company has until September to bring the price up to above $1.

“Our expectation is if the markets are rational, we should see our stock price come up as we deliver against that guidance,” said Torchiana. 

Bird still has a long way to go to reach profitability by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Lime reports first profitable year, tests the waters for IPO

Shared micromobility giant Lime said it has achieved full-year profitability on both an adjusted and unadjusted EBITDA basis, which would make it an outlier in an industry that has struggled to break even, much less turn a profit.

Lime reported adjusted EBITDA profitability of $15 million and unadjusted profitability of $4 million in 2022. The company said it adjusted for a one-time stock-based compensation expense, as well as “old depreciation that was embedded, which is less important than the future capex spend,” according to CEO Wayne Ting. 

Lime did not share any other metrics like revenue or expenses, so TechCrunch was unable to confirm the company’s self-reported profits. The takeaway the company wants to impart, though, is clear: Lime has figured out how to make shared micromobility a sustainable business.

The company expects to achieve free cash flow positivity this year or next, and once the macroeconomic environment becomes more favorable, Lime will move to enter the public markets. When that happens, it’ll be because Lime wants to access the public markets, not because it needs to go public to raise money, said Ting.

A number of startups, including competitors Bird and Helbiz, have gone public over the past couple of years through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies. SPAC mergers sidestep the traditional IPO route and, as such, often have a hint of desperation about them — many startups choose the SPAC route because they’re struggling to raise funds privately. 

“We were fortunate enough to raise over $500 million in 2021, so we came into 2022 with a very strong cash position,” said Ting. “Now we’re burning very little, and we have unlimited runway. We continue to invest in markets at a moment where a lot of our competitors are pulling back precisely because they can’t make money doing this.”

Over the past several months, almost every major micromobility company — including Bird, Spin, Tier, Helbiz, Voi and Superpedestrian — has laid off staff and exited unprofitable markets. Lime has somehow been able to avoid making similar headlines. In fact, Ting said 2022 was Lime’s best year. The company expanded into new markets, hit record gross bookings of $466 million and even hired 150 new full-time employees. 

“2022 was a hard year for many people, but it’s actually good for the strong players,” said Ting. “This is a year where if you can’t make your business work, you’ve got to start shrinking because there’s not free money on the other side.” 

Ting said that in the “good years” of the tech boom, businesses obscured their operational weaknesses by consistently calling on the VC lifeline to raise more money. In today’s tighter market, those inefficiencies are becoming glaringly obvious. 

How Lime has (apparently) succeeded where others have failed

After Bird reported weak third-quarter 2022 earnings — including a going concern warning and a disclosure that it had overstated revenue for the past two years — the company decided to shift gears so it could achieve profitability. Bird’s strategy was simple: Stop building its own vehicles and instead buy off-the-shelf; raise more money to stay in operation; pull out of unprofitable markets; and downsize to stay lean. 

Lime’s strategy has been, in many ways, the exact opposite.

The company has invested heavily into building its own vehicles with swappable batteries, and Ting said getting the design right has drastically reduced Lime’s capital expenditures. 

“As we launch our new Gen4 scooters and e-bikes, they now last more than five years, they break very rarely and they use very few spare parts,” said Ting. 

Ting said that Lime has also been able to gain market share with higher vehicle utilization than its competitors, in large part because the Gen4 vehicles are more desirable. TechCrunch was unable to confirm that riders would rather use Lime’s vehicles than other competitors, but Ting said Lime completed 120 million trips last year, and that gross bookings increased 20% year-over-year every quarter in 2022. 

“Another reason we’ve reached this milestone is the fact that we’re global,” said Ting. “You need scale, and when you have scale, you can invest more in operations. You can invest more in hardware. When you go into a new city, we’ve either been in that city before or been in a city that kind of looks like that, so we get up on the operational curve much faster than competitors. We can get unit economics positive much faster.”

Of course, without eyes on an SEC filing, we just have to take Lime’s word for it that the unit economics are so healthy.

“It would be enormously imprudent for us not to be always telling the truth,” replied Ting when I questioned why Lime wasn’t ready to share more information on its financials, adding that Lime is audited on an annual basis by KPMG and counts Google, Uber and Apple as investors. 

“We’re getting ourselves ready [for the public markets] by improving our business, by showing that we don’t grow at the expense of losing money, but we grow in a sustainable, profitable way,” said Ting. “That’s why this year is so important. We’re going to do everything we can to grow the business, improve margins, so that whenever the IPO market comes back, we’re ready to take advantage of it.”

Lime reports first profitable year, tests the waters for IPO by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Tier-owned Spin exits 10 US markets amid low demand, unfavorable city regulations

Micromobility operator Spin is leaving 10 U.S. markets due to a combination of low demand, over-regulation, under-regulation and poor cost structures, according to a company-wide email sent Friday by Philip Reinckens, Spin’s CEO, that was shared with TechCrunch.

Reinckens said the market exits would help Spin cut costs and focus on growing markets that provide “the best financial outlook for the company in 2023.” Reinckens took over as CEO from Ben Bear in May, a couple of months after Berlin-based Tier bought Spin from Ford and officially entered the U.S. market.

According to the email, Spin is leaving Atlanta, Bakersfield, Cleveland, Detroit, Ft. Pierce, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Omaha, Miami and Wichita. All workers affected by market exits were informed by their market leadership team, wrote Reinckens. While Spin has tried to place affected staff in alternate roles where possible, there will undoubtedly be layoffs. Reinckens said Spin is providing severance packages and resume and job searching support for those affected. The CEO didn’t respond in time to TechCrunch’s request for information as to how many workers would be out of work.

Reinckens said the decision wasn’t taken lightly and pointed to factors outside the company’s control.

“We based the decision on the evaluation of current market fundamentals and our ability to overcome key financial challenges,” wrote Reinckens. “Factors such as low consumer demand, prohibitive regulations (i.e. curfews, no ride/parking zones), unregulated competitive landscapes, and/or disadvantageous operating cost structures greatly limit our ability to operate profitably in these markets.”

It has long been Spin’s policy to pursue more exclusive city partnerships. Manifesting that strategy means leaving markets where that isn’t the case. Two months ago, Spin exited Seattle and Canadian markets and laid off 10% of its workforce — mainly white-collar jobs in policy and government and even a handful of executive roles — to solve for redundancies between Spin and Tier and put the former on the path to near-term profitability.

At the start of the year, Spin also decided to leave “all open permit markets,” which resulted in a 25% staff cut.

Spin’s decision also follows competitor Bird’s flight from “several dozen additional, primarily small to mid-sized markets” in the U.S., as well as Germany, Norway and Sweden, citing similar reasons. In a blog post at the time, Bird said it was specifically leaving markets that lack a “robust regulatory framework,” which leads to too much competition and an oversupply of vehicles on crowded streets.

Shared micromobility company Lime hasn’t had major layoffs and market exits since the pandemic. Josh Meltzer, head of government affairs at Lime, told TechCrunch he sees over-regulated markets as a potential culprit for companies now choosing to exit cities.

“For many years, new companies that were interested in quickly building market share and entering new cities would over-promise technological features and operational capabilities that did not reflect reality,” Meltzer told TechCrunch. “These promises, in some cases, led to unrealistic expectations from regulators. While we’re not seeing as much of this recently, it has led to some very highly regulated and therefore hard-to-operate markets, which could be why some companies are now feeling squeezed.”

One such technological feature has been scooter ARAS (advanced rider assistance systems) that are advertised to help detect and correct sidewalk riding and improper parking. Spin has worked with Drover AI to implement a computer vision-based system in certain cities, but neither company has confirmed to TechCrunch which cities and if the program is still scaling today.

Like many tech companies this year, Spin needs to focus on growing markets where it has a chance to turn a profit.

“We are confident that following this hard decision, we are in a position to pursue our strategy to profitability and can continue to build our success in the remaining markets,” Reinckens continued, noting that more on the future outlook of the company would be discussed at the company’s next all-hands on Friday.

TechCrunch reached out to several cities for comment on Spin’s departure, but didn’t receive any responses in time. Reinckens said in his email that Spin is working closely with authorities in remaining markets to “provide full transparency through this process.”

Tier-owned Spin exits 10 US markets amid low demand, unfavorable city regulations by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Bird’s plan to stay in the shared scooter game

Shared micromobility company Bird has lost nearly all of its value since going public through a special purpose acquisition merger last year, falling from a 52-week high of $9.05 per share to around 23 cents per share this afternoon. In its short life on the public markets, Bird has garnered a reputation for burning through cash as it tries to be everywhere at once.

Bird’s free fall has investors and industry watchers questioning the company’s future and the state of the industry overall.

The upshot? Bird CEO and president Shane Torchiana predicts a major consolidation in the industry, with two or three companies coming out on top. Bird, he said, has a chance to be one of those companies.

That bullishness might prompt the rise of a few investor eyebrows considering the last year.

Bird has gone through a major restructuring, an executive shakeup, a round of layoffs, an exodus from multiple markets, a delisting warning from the New York Stock Exchange, a confession that it had overstated revenue for the past two years and a warning to investors that Bird may not have enough funds to continue operating for the next 12 months.

Torchiana contends the turmoil has forced Bird to take action and develop a strategy that drives down costs, improves efficiency and eventually even leads to profitability.

His plan includes increasing battery-swappable scooters, taking more control over asset allocation and making nice with cities. The company aims to be free cash flow positive by next year and to become adjusted EBITDA positive on a full-year basis, even if it needs to sacrifice some growth to achieve that.

Money, vehicles, ridership and staying lean

First things first: Bird needs to raise some more money so it can become a self-sufficient company. It closed out the third quarter with $38.5 million in free cash flow and operating expenses at $29.4 million.

Torchiana said he thinks around 3% or 4% of what Bird has raised historically should get the company out of its hole and into self-sustaining territory. Bird wouldn’t disclose its total funding amount, but per Crunchbase, the company has raised $883 million to date. That means it’ll need to scrounge together another $26 million to $35 million.

The problem is, given Bird’s shaky track record, investors are understandably dubious of claims that it can succeed. Tom White, an analyst at D.A. Davidson investment bank, said he isn’t sure which investors would throw Bird a bone at this point.

“Given Bird’s market cap, raising any significant amount of money would most likely mean substantial dilution for existing equity holders,” White told TechCrunch. “The white knight scenario here could be a strategic investment, where someone invests a lot of money for a decent-sized stake in the business.”

Bird’s plan to stay in the shared scooter game by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Lyft, Redwood Materials partner to recycle shared e-bike and e-scooter batteries

Lyft is partnering with Redwood Materials, a battery recycling company founded by ex-Tesla co-founder JB Straubel, to ensure the batteries from its fleets of shared electric bikes and scooters don’t end up in landfill at their end of life.

The news, reported by The Verge, comes the same week that Lyft ended its dockless bike and scootershare in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, citing the desire to pursue long-term contracts with a limited number of operators. Lyft also ended its scootershare operations in San Diego earlier this year amid several cost cutting and restructuring measures that focuses Lyft more firmly on ride-hail.

While the exiting of those cities might suggest more are to come — and thus Lyft will need a responsible way of disposing of its vehicles, lest we have another Uber-Jump-landfill-pileup situation — Lyft’s docked bikeshare programs, particularly CitiBike in New York City, continue to thrive. Lyft started haphazardly introducing pedal assist e-bikes in NYC in 2019, and the company says its bikes have a five-year lifespan, so at least a portion of its electric fleet is nearing end-of-life.

The partnership with Redwood might be the recycling startup’s first foray into shared micromobility — the company did not respond in time to requests for clarification. Redwood is known for breaking down scrap from Tesla’s battery partnership with Panasonic, as well as recycling batteries from Ford, Volvo, Toyota, Nissan, Specialized and others. The company has expanded from simply recycling to producing critical battery materials, and last week inked a deal with Panasonic to do just that, supporting a domestic supply chain in North America for EVs.

In its partnership with Redwood, Lyft will recover dead batteries through its operations team and ship them to Redwood’s facility in Nevada. Redwood will decide how much of the battery is reusable and then begin a chemical recycling process, which removes and refines nickel, cobalt and copper, which ideally can be used to make new batteries.

Jackson Switzer, senior director of business development at Redwood, told The Verge that about 130 e-bike batteries can provide enough battery metals to make a new EV battery. All of Redwood’s recycling is done domestically, which is a step up from battery materials being sent abroad to be broken down and re-manufactured, only to be sent back to the U.S. in the end.

Lyft, Redwood Materials partner to recycle shared e-bike and e-scooter batteries by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Helbiz’s Wheels acquisition fails to impress investors

Helbiz’s deal to buy Wheels has officially gone through, and with it some promises from the shared micromobility operator to its investors that the tie up will double its annual revenue and help it reach profitability.

Helbiz is hardly the only shared micromobility operator battling to achieve profitability. It’s a situation that most companies in this volatile industry are in today. Helbiz has arguably a tougher road ahead. The company has been facing down a delisting from the Nasdaq for trading way below the $1.00 per share minimum. Bird, the only other publicly traded micromobility company, is facing a similar delisting risk.

Helbiz appears to be using the Wheels acquisition as a lifeline.

However, Wall Street — at least based on the Helbiz share price — isn’t impressed with the company’s promise to deliver “over $25 million in revenue for the full year of 2022,” tap into Wheels’ user base of 5 million riders and expand into new markets like Los Angeles.

Investors seem to be taking a negative view. Helbiz shares fell 8.10% on Tuesday to close at $0.28. The share price has fallen some 65% since it initially made its acquisition announcement. But that drop is nothing compared to freefall it has experienced since its opening debut in August 2021 of $10.20. In order to regain Nasdaq compliance, Helbiz has to find a way to increase its stock price 257% for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days prior to January 16, 2023.

Why investors didn’t take the bait? Perhaps it’s the company’s dwindling cash reserves, as of the company’s second quarter earnings report, its ambitious positive gross profit margin target or its restructuring plans.

Helbiz CFO Giulio Profumo said the combined company expects to achieve positive gross profit margin within the next nine months and to achieve profitability at the operating level within the next 24 months. It seems Helbiz is counting on restructuring to help it reach that target.

“We intend to restructure the combined company to accelerate our path to profitability by a combination of higher margin from the Wheels business, operational savings from redundancies across both companies, and reductions in the cost of revenue,” Profumo said.

We’ve seen that kind of language before — Bird made similar comments were made before laying off 23% of its staff and exiting dozens of markets across the world, as did Tier before laying off 10% of Spin’s workforce.

Around the time Helbiz signed its intent to acquire Wheels, Wheels furloughed a handful of employees. Since then, the company has laid off many of those employees, according to one source familiar with the matter, but a Helbiz spokesperson told TechCrunch some of the furloughed Wheels employees have been brought back. He also said that nothing has been planned in terms of layoffs yet.

“There are gaps that each company fills in the other and we will use that for efficiency and cost saving,” said Matt Rosenberg, Helbiz’s North America head of communications.

Helbiz’s Wheels acquisition fails to impress investors by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Magna enters the micromobility and battery swapping market

Magna International, a Canadian mobility technology company that builds sensor-based systems for cars like driver monitoring systems and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), is entering the micromobility market. The company invested $77 million in Yulu, an Indian shared micromobility operator, and plans to jointly launch a battery swapping service company.

Magna’s investment is part of Yulu’s $83 million Series B, in which Bajaj Auto also participated. Along with the funding, Magna will hold a seat on Yulu’s board of directors. Yulu’s latest round will help the company expand to an additional 15 cities in the next 18 months, and potentially beyond India in the future, according to Magna.

“Micromobility presents a great opportunity for additional growth for Magna, and joining forces with Yulu helps us expand our business into this rapidly growing sector,” said Matteo Del Sorbo, Magna’s executive vice president and global lead for Magna new mobility, in a statement.

Earlier this year, Magna acquired the technology, IP and assets of Optimus Ride, an autonomous shuttle company, to further beef up its ADAS offerings.

The new battery swapping entity is currently registered as “Yulu Energy,” already employs 200 staffers and is headquartered in Bangalore, according to Magna. The mobility tech giant says it will be Yulu’s exclusive battery swapping partner and will build up the infrastructure required for “millions of swaps per week.”

Magna says it intends to leverage Yulu’s strong market position and network in India to grow Yulu Energy, which the company describes as a Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) company. However, it’s not clear whether Yulu Energy will be modeled after Taiwan’s Gogoro, which has a growing battery swapping network that services private consumers with their own electric two-wheelers. Given that Yulu has about 10,000 electric two-wheelers throughout Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, it’s possible Yulu Energy will service the shared mobility market.

“We can clearly see a significant growth opportunity for Yulu in both the BaaS and [Mobility-as-a-Service] businesses in the next three to four years,” said Yulu’s co-founder and CEO Amit Gupta. “As the market leader in electric mobility, with a proven business model built on positive unit economics, our focus now will be to establish a robust and agile supply chain and scale-up our operations.”

Neither Magna nor Yulu responded in time to TechCrunch’s request for more information.

Magna enters the micromobility and battery swapping market by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Drover AI’s Alex Nesic on using tech to regulate the scooter market

As shared micromobility continues to take over cities, operators have found themselves implementing different forms of scooter “advanced rider assistance systems” or scooter ARAS, that can detect when a rider is doing the thing cities hate most — riding on the sidewalk.

Drover AI, a startup that had the gumption to launch in May 2020, is one of the companies enabling this trend to take off. The startup builds computer vision IoT modules that have been mounted on scooters from the likes of Spin, Voi and Beam. The modules are built with cameras that use machine learning to detect things like sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrians, which then send that data back to the scooter’s brain in order to send the riders alerts or, in some cases, actually slow them down.

Alex Nesic, one of the founders of Drover AI and its CEO, didn’t always have a burning passion for AI or computer vision. In fact, Nesic spent the better part of the aughts as an actor, appearing in TV shows like “Sleeper Cell” and “CSI” (Miami and New York!). But Nesic enjoyed chemistry in high school and was good at converting tech speak into actionable marketing language, so he jumped at the opportunity to get involved in a high school friend’s venture that dealt with nanotechnology and surface modification chemistry.

After rising up the ladder fairly quickly until he reached the role of VP, Nesic got pulled into the mobility sphere by a company called Immotor, which probably launched about five years too early to be successful. Immotor built a three-wheeled portable scooter with swappable batteries and was connected to an app via Bluetooth.

“The fact that operators and even manufacturers are trying to replicate our approach is very validating.” Alex Nesic, Drover AI CEO

“I would travel with it because the batteries were TSA-compliant, and I would put it in the overhead bin and it was my introduction to moving through cities with micromobility that I could carry with me everywhere,” said Nesic.

This was around the time that Bird started launching shared scooters, so the market wasn’t yet ready for a $1,500 consumer-facing scooter that was being lumped more into the hoverboard category than a useful transportation device.

So Nesic pivoted and founded Clevr Mobility, a shared e-scooter operator that also provided a turnkey solution for cities and other private operators. Nesic said that Clevr was one of the first companies to start the conversation around detecting and geofencing sidewalks, only it was relying on GPS to try to achieve submeter accuracy. It was the failure to actually do so that led Nesic to denounce the inadequacies of GPS and go on to found Drover AI, which meets the demand for precise location awareness using computer vision instead.

We sat down with Nesic to discuss the possibilities of integrating computer vision tech into privately owned scooters, what it means when a larger company steals your idea and why tech pedigrees are overrated when it comes to running a startup.

Editor’s note: The following interview, part of an ongoing series with founders who are building transportation companies, has been edited for length and clarity.

TechCrunch: You closed a $5.4 million Series A in July, and at the time you told me the money would go toward your next-gen product but also toward exploring other integrations farther up the supply chain with vehicle manufacturers.

Alex Nesic: The end game for me is also to try to help inform the regulatory environment because it’s not reasonable to expect there to be two different sets of rules for the shared operators and private scooter owners. Operators are constrained and have all these hoops to jump through, but then anybody can buy something on Amazon that doesn’t offer any similar safety features.

Drover AI’s Alex Nesic on using tech to regulate the scooter market by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Helbiz reports revenue increase but dwindling cash reserves

Helbiz started out as a shared micromobility company but has since expanded to include ghost kitchens, media streaming and, most recently, a taxi service. The company reported its second-quarter earnings Monday after the bell. The startup was the first scooter operator to go public via the SPAC route, and many in the industry wish it wasn’t so after consistently meh earnings reports.

Since Helbiz’s public debut in August 2021, its earnings reports have shown a company that burns through dwindling cash reserves, doesn’t pull in enough revenue to make up for its high costs of operations and keeps pivoting away from core operations into new, and sometimes strange, business units.

While Helbiz’s revenue has increased slightly quarter over quarter and year over year, Monday’s report tells a similar story.

Before we dig into the financials, a little context. In late June, Helbiz signed a letter of intent to buy Wheels, another shared micromobility operator, by the end of the year. In the midst of this, there were multiple times when Helbiz employees in U.S. and Serbian offices had to wait for delayed payments. Sources told TechCrunch that aside from late paychecks, Helbiz is suffering from chronically late scooter shipments and a general lack of company structure.

Despite lackluster earnings, Helbiz’s stock is trading higher than its public market rival Bird, which also announced earnings today. Today, at $1.43 after hours, Helbiz is up 12.6%. That is largely attributable to Helbiz CEO Salvatore Palella’s acquisition of 252,636 shares of the company at an average price of $3 — a transaction that is valued at $757,908. Also, that number is still a far cry from the $10.92 at which Helbiz opened.

Helbiz’s Q2 2022 Financials

Helbiz closed out the second quarter with $4.4 million in revenue, which is up 46% from the same period last year and 33% from last quarter. Mobility, or shared micromobility rides, made up more than half of the second quarter’s total revenue at $2.7 million, up from $1.6 million in Q1.

Helbiz reported around 1.2 million rides in Q2, which is nearly double its Q1 rides, but only a slight increase YoY. Unlike Bird, Helbiz doesn’t appear to report the number of vehicles it has on the ground, nor its rides per vehicle per day.

The remaining $1.7 million in revenue came from “the incremental contribution from Media and Kitchen,” said Helbiz chief financial officer Giulio Profumo in a statement.

During Q3 2021, Helbiz launched Helbiz Live, a sports streaming platform that is currently showing Italy’s Series B soccer, NCAA football and basketball, and MLB games. Helbiz expects to generate $6 million during the first Series B season, some of which must have already been realized in Q2 2022.

Around the same time that Helbiz launched Live, it also introduced Helbiz Kitchen, a ghost kitchen delivery service. The company was coy about how much revenue the new service has brought in, but Kitchen apparently delivered something. Helbiz said in the first half of the year, revenue nearly doubled sequentially. Of course, doubled from zero isn’t exactly a massive achievement.

“Importantly, growth was solid in our core mobility business and we are improving margins as we bring down mobility cost of revenue,” said Profumo. “Even with our cost-control focus, we are investing effectively and efficiently in talent, advertising, marketing, and R&D to sustain our pace of expansion.”

Helbiz’s operating expenses did decrease slightly QoQ, but at $20.8 million, they nearly doubled YoY. Loss from operations was down at $16.4 million from $18 million in Q1, but Helbiz’s net loss of $19.7 million is about flat QoQ.

The company finished the quarter with $2.5 million in cash, which is up from $1 million last quarter, but way down from $21 million during the same period last year. Helbiz had to raise $10 million this quarter via a new issue of convertible notes. In July and August, Helbiz also raised another $5 million to fund its “multiple growth opportunities,” according to Profumo.

The first half of the year saw Helbiz use about $4.7 million in cash to fund its micromobility operations. The company paid $3.5 million to vehicle manufacturers as deposits for e-bikes, e-scooters and e-mopeds, vehicles that Helbiz expects to be delivered throughout the year. And while Helbiz’s acquisition of Wheels will be mainly stock, Helbiz put down a $1 million deposit to enter into the letter of intent, and invested $100,000 in operating licenses, which it has categorized as intangible assets.

“Looking forward, we will deploy more vehicles, pursue more micro-mobility licenses, and drive expansion in Asia Pacific,” said the CFO. Helbiz recently launched shared e-scooter operations in Australia and expanded its existing fleets in the U.S. and Italy.

The company provided no guidance for the third quarter or the full year.

Bolt Mobility has vanished, leaving e-bikes, unanswered calls behind in several US cities

Bolt Mobility, the Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, appears to have vanished without a trace from several of its U.S. markets. 

In some cases, the departure has been abrupt, leaving cities with abandoned equipment, unanswered calls and emails and lots of questions.

Bolt has stopped operating in at least five U.S. cities, including Portland, Oregon, Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski in Vermont and Richmond, California, according to city officials. City representatives also said they were unable to reach anyone at Bolt, including its CEO Ignacio Tzoumas.

TechCrunch has made multiple attempts to reach Bolt and those who have backed the company. Emails to Bolt’s communications department, several employees and investors went unanswered. Even the customer service line doesn’t appear to be staffed. The PR agency that was representing Bolt in March of this year told TechCrunch it is no longer working with the company. 

Bolt halted its service in Portland on July 1. The company’s failure to provide the city with updated insurance and pay some outstanding fees, Portland subsequently suspended Bolt’s permit to operate there, according to a city  spokesperson. 

Bolt zooms than stalls

Bolt Mobility (not to be confused with the European transportation super app also named Bolt) was on what appeared to be a growth streak about 18 months ago. The company acquired in January 2021 the assets of Last Mile Holdings, which owned micromobility companies Gotcha and OjO Electric. The purchaser opened up 48 new markets to Bolt Mobility, most of which were smaller cities such as Raleigh, North Carolina, St. Augustine, Florida and Mobile, Alabama. 

After purchasing Last Mile’s assets, Bolt agreed to continue as the bike share vendor in Chittenden County, Vermont, including cities Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski.

That license was even renewed in 2022, said Bryan Davis, senior transportation planner of the county. 

“We learned a couple of weeks ago (from them) that Bolt is ceasing operations,” Davis told TechCrunch via email, noting that Bolt ceased operations July 1, but actually informed the county a week later. “They’ve vanished, leaving equipment behind and emails and calls unanswered. We’re unable to reach anyone, but it seems they’ve closed shop in other markets as well.”

Sandy Thibault, executive director of Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association, told the Burlington Free Press that Bolt communicated that employees were being let go and the company’s board of directors was discussing next steps.

A spokesperson at Burlington relayed similar information.

“All of our contacts at Bolt, including their CEO, have gone radio silent and have not replied to our emails,” Robert Goulding, public information manager at Burlington’s Department of Public Works, told TechCrunch.

Davis went on to say that about 100 bikes have been left on the ground completely inoperable and with dead batteries. Chittenden County has given Bolt a time frame in which to claim or remove the company’s vehicles otherwise the county will take ownership of them.  

Bolt also appears to have stopped operating in Richmond, California, according to Richmond Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum. 

“Unfortunately, Bolt apparently went out of business without prior notification or removal of their capital equipment from city property,” wrote Butt. “They recently missed the city’s monthly meeting check-in and have been unresponsive to all their clients throughout all their markets.”

Butt went on to say that the city is coming up with a plan to remove all the abandoned equipment – about 250 e-bikes that were available at hub locations like BART stations and the ferry terminal – and asked people to refrain from vandalizing the bikes until the city could come up with a solution. 

TechCrunch has reached out to several other cities in which Bolt operates and has not been able to confirm that the company has stopped operating entirely. In fact, a spokesperson from St. Augustine told TechCrunch Bolt’s bike share was running as usual.

Bolt’s social media has also been rather inactive in recent weeks. The company hasn’t posted on Instagram since June 11 or on Twitter since June 2. 

The last time TechCrunch heard from Bolt was nine months ago when the company was peddling its in-app navigation system that it dubbed “MobilityOS.” At the time, the startup promised that its next generation of scooters would include a smartphone mount that would double as a phone charger, but it’s unclear if those scooters ever hit the streets. 

Bolt has publicly raised $40.2 million, an amount that doesn’t include an undisclosed investment from India’s Ram Charan Company in May. Investors there could not be reached for comment.