Bird has flown the coop. 

The scooter company that arguably started the micromobility industry is no longer based in the city of its birth and a recent shakeup at the executive level has removed founder Travis VanderZanden from the CEO position. 

Bird’s Board of Directors announced several leadership changes on Wednesday. The company named Shane Torchiana, currently President, as President and Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Travis VanderZanden, who will remain Chairman of the Board. The Board also appointed Ben Lu as Chief Financial Officer, succeeding Yibo Ling. Additionally, Lance Bradley, currently Senior Vice President, Engineering, has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer.

The move was described as part of a continued drive towards profitability.

“The organizational changes announced today reaffirm our commitment to positioning Bird for long-term profitable growth and we continue to expect positive adjusted EBITDA in the third quarter of 2022,” said VanderZanden. “We believe this long-planned transition strengthens a world-class executive team with a record of delivering results, public company expertise, and a focus on driving key stakeholder value. Under new leadership, the company will continue to prioritize cost optimization, without losing sight of our long-term commitment to making cities more livable and sustainable.”

VanderZanden stepped down as Bird’s President in June following a precipitous decline in the company’s stock value from $8.40 when it entered the market to $0.35 today. The cratering values caused the New York Stock Exchange to send a warning to the company that it could be delisted if it does not bring the price above $1 per share before the end of the year. At the same time, the company’s self-description changed from Los Angeles based to Miami. 

VanderZanden launched Bird as a Santa Monica-based company in 2017. He came to the scooter industry from Uber and said at the time he always had a passion for transit going back to his mother’s job as a bus driver. 

The company earned a checkered reputation for its approach to local regulations but experienced explosive growth for several years becoming the fastest company to reach a Silicon Valley valuation of a billion dollars. Bird expanded its devices throughout the country and into several international markets before the pandemic struck. 

The company attempted to evolve its business model several times. Bird offered a franchise system to encourage small entrepreneurs to operate their own scooter systems using Bird technology but that effort was criticized for saddling franchisees with massive debt. It also pivoted to retail with the sale of Bird branded bikes/scooters. 

Its core business of short-distance scooter rental also experienced turbulence as local municipalities began regulating the devices. Locally, Bird was kicked out of Santa Monica in 2021 when the City revised its pilot program allowing scooters to operate on local streets. The company was narrowly included in the initial program but was eliminated in the second round due to low scores for affordability, customer service, safety, and sustainability. 

In 2020, Bird fired about 400 people and another 23 percent of its workforce were laid off this year. 

However, despite its losses, the company still operates in more than 450 cities globally and offers Bird branded products for sale on its website www.bird.co

editor@smdp.com