Briefing

Caisse invests US$50 million in Bird as Ontario considers opening its streets to e-scooters

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The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s investment is part of a US$275-million round that includes Sequoia Capital and values Bird at US$2.5 billion. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the Caisse’s first e-scooter investment, and it comes as Ontario government officials keep dropping hints they’re about to allow the vehicles on public roads. Bird already operates in Calgary and Edmonton, and is trying to carve out beachheads in Kelowna, B.C. and Toronto. Several city councillors have expressed reservations about Bird coming in to Toronto, but it’s not the only Ontario market up for grabs. Windsor, Waterloo and Ottawa have all indicated a willingness to have e-scooters on their streets. The Caisse’s investment puts pressure on rival Lime to bring in a similarly large amount in the round it’s currently trying to raise. Both firms are looking for cash to fuel their expansions, but the era of quickly trying to enter as many cities as possible—regardless of regulatory concerns or losses—is well over. Investors are less willing to back money-losing businesses since Uber and Lyft’s underwhelming public debuts. “Because the tech investing community is changing and reacting quickly to the public markets, I think it’s very difficult if you’re a growth-stage company—a growth-at-all-costs company—to be burning hundreds of millions of dollars with negative unit economics,” said Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Thursday. “I think this is going to be a healthy reset for the tech community.”