E-scooters really are the vaping of public transportation. They’re a safe alternative that’s somehow even more dangerous, and they’re incredibly popular despite being despised by every human being on the planet. They also make you look like a spoiled 15-year-old douche. But that’s not what’s hurting the e-scooter brand, which claims it’s close to becoming a billion-dollar industry … if only they could stop burning through scooters at breakneck speed.
Over the past year, many city dwellers have seen scooter rideshares become — well, not popular, but very “present.” Lime, the biggest vroom-vroom company, provides a worldwide fleet of about 120,000 of them. But the #1 vehicle supplier of and for urban skid marks may be skidding toward financial trouble. The company has posted $300 million in yearly losses. Let that sink in. A tech startup that rents kids’ toys to yuppies and the permanently flip-flopped was able to burn through 300 million dollars and stay in such good shape that it didn’t even have to set its headquarters on fire for the insurance money.
So what’s causing Lime to leak money faster than the fluid out of one of their scooter’s cut brakes? According to them, it’s a matter of scooter “depreciation” — a shareholder-friendly way of saying that their product gets treated like crap. Rideshare companies have to spend a fortune picking up their scooters from whatever random patch of sidewalk their scootees ditched them like so much spent chewing gum. And then there are the constant repairs. According to Lime, their scooters only survive the mean city streets for five months (which is about four months longer than some other reports), thanks to a corrosive combination of elemental wear and tear, heavy/irresponsible usage, and people getting so mad at douches dropping them in front of their homes that they’ve started sabotaging them.
But in the face of this wave of neglect, Lime is still confident it’ll find new ways to improve their scooters’ shelf life — we assume by making them so heavy that folks can no longer chuck them into rivers. That way, they’ll be able to increase their current reported revenue of $420 million to their 2020 target of over a billion. And if all those numbers sound silly, if not downright made up, you have to remember that the CFO of a scooter company is likely three eight-year-olds stacked in a large raincoat.