Business owners and entrepreneurs will soon be able to buy and manage fleets of Bird scooters.

Bird recently announced its plan to launch Bird Platform, which will allow independent operators to purchase scooters, brand them with their logos and run them on their own customized apps powered by Bird. The company will charge a service fee on every scooter ride, but fleet owners would collect the rest of the revenue.

“Independent operators will also have access to a marketplace of chargers and mechanics to help maintain and distribute the e-scooters each day, as well as global support resources,” a Bird spokesperson said. “Once the fleet is up and running, independent operators will have access to Bird’s portfolio of operational tools to manage and optimize their fleet.”

More than 300 individuals have expressed interest in starting their own fleets, mainly people who want to bring the scooters to cities that don’t yet have them and bicycle rental operators looking to add scooters to their inventories.

Rob Wakefield, who owns Santa Monica Beach Bicycle Rentals on 4th Street near Santa Monica Boulevard, said he reached out to Bird about the program because e-scooters took 10 to 20 percent of his business over the past year.

“If you can’t beat them, you’ve got to join them,” he said. “They’ve cut into our business, so we’ve got to cut into theirs.”

Wakefield said he is wary about the work managing a fleet of scooters would entail, however, since many get stolen, go missing or suffer damage. He added he thinks managing Bird-branded scooters may attract more customers than renting ones branded with his own logo.

It’s unclear how independent operators would fit into Santa Monica’s Shared Mobility Pilot Program, a City of Santa Monica spokesperson said. The program launched in September and limits the number of operators that can provide dockless e-scooters. Bird and Lime can each operate 750 scooters and Lyft and Jump, which is owned by Uber, operate 250 each. Jump and Lyft also manage 500 e-bikes each.

The total number of e-scooters operating in the city is capped at 2,000, although the program stipulates that the number of devices each operator is authorized to deploy may increase or decrease based on utilization and performance.

However, a Bird spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company will start rolling out Bird Platform in December in cities that have not imposed regulations on e-scooters. For example, the company plans to avoid San Francisco because it has capped the number of e-scooters that can operate in the city at 1,250.

Bird is not setting a maximum or minimum limit for fleet sizes, a spokesperson said.

madeleine@smdp.com

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