Transit: A local fleet of Veo e-bikes. Photo by Joel Marasigan

E-scooter brands in Santa Monica come and go faster than fashion trends, but with the announcement of its new headquarters on the 3rd Street Promenade, micromobility company Veo intends on being here for the long run.

The company was founded in Chicago in 2017 and brought its e-scooters and e-bikes to Santa Monica in July 2021 after it was selected as one of four micromobility companies authorized to operate in the City through March 30, 2023. The new Downtown office space will function as the company’s West Coast headquarters and the base for much of its new hiring and expansion.

The company has ambitious goals to augment its existing 200 person workforce with 300 new employees, the majority of whom will be hired from the Santa Monica area, by the end of 2022.

Veo CEO Candice Xie recently relocated to Santa Monica to lead this next chapter in the company’s history. She said that Veo was drawn by the city’s active community, which the company seeks to utilize to inform its product design and development.

“It’s very important for us to work in the market side by side with our users and to develop the product they need,” said Xie. “Santa Monica is the perfect home for us for our next stage, and to scale and grow.”

Santa Monica was also selected as the new headquarters due to its strategic location as a launch point for Veo’s planned growth across the West Coast. The company is currently operating in over 30 markets across the nation, including major cities like Chicago and Seattle, smaller cities such as Sarasota and St. Petersburg, and college campuses such as Rutgers. Veo seeks to hone in on its California expansion and will soon be launching in the City of LA.

Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. is happy to see a new corporate headquarters opening after watching many technology and micromobility companies leave Santa Monica or lease their office space during the pandemic.

“Downtown Santa Monica has been the center of innovation in Southern California for more than 30 years, earning the moniker Silicon Beach because of the concentration of technology start-ups and other ground-breaking businesses. Veo’s addition reinforces our district’s commitment to developing solutions to the challenges of today to bring about a better tomorrow,” said Mackenzie Carter, Interim Executive Director of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.

Xie said that she regards Santa Monica as the birthplace of shared mobility and is committed to working collaboratively with the City.

Bird e-scooters first launched on the streets of Santa Monica in 2017 and catalyzed an explosion in the micromobility market. Since then many e-bike and e-scooter start-ups have zoomed onto the streets and off into bankruptcy. Bird has not been immune to financial difficulties and laid off 406 employees via a single Zoom call at the start of the pandemic. In July 2021 it lost its appeal to remain one of Santa Monica’s authorized mobility providers and was subsequently kicked out of its hometown market.

Despite this history, Xie said that she does not link Bird’s operations to Veo’s decision to launch a Santa Monica headquarters.

“We don’t want to be associated with Bird in any case, because their practice is nothing we agree with. So I don’t think our decision to move here has much to do with Bird, it’s more focusing on our need and the attractiveness of the city by itself and also the inspiration (that) we want to do better in the industry,” said Xie.

Veo has several business principles that differ from some of the standard industry practices. The company prioritizes profit over growth rate and has scaled up more gradually than many of its competitors. This has allowed Veo to become the first profitable micromobility company on the market.

“We take a little bit of a different approach than those tech bros took in the past; they typically get the money, scale, and then fix their issues afterwards,” said Xie. “We’re more like let’s try to figure out the business, what kind of product we need to provide to the city to the user, and what kind of program we need to build to sustain the business.”

Veo also focuses on working cooperatively with local governments and Xie said the company would not attempt to expand into markets where there is a lack of willingness to partner. While Veo’s current authorization to operate in Santa Monica will expire at the end of May 2023, Xie said the company intends to maintain a positive relationship with the City and strive to keep its devices in Santa Monica for many years to come.

Clara@smdp.com