Electric scooter startup Bird has showed its commitment to the French market in a big way with the announcement of plans to open its biggest European office in Paris. The company is promising to use its Paris office to employ 1,000 people over the next two years – something it hopes will city officials off its back.
The office will house staff working across operations, government partnerships, legal, marketing, and communications. It will also be a place where scooter users can attend safety training sessions and pick up a free helmet for making the effort.
“When we launched in Paris nearly a year ago, we were blown away by how quickly Parisians took to our service,” said Travis VanderZanden, Bird founder and CEO. “The adoption signalled a need and desire for an alternative to cars. The city really is a global leader in the fight against climate change and we want to help them achieve their goals by committing even further to the city. Paris already feels like home to us, so it’s only natural that we should make it our official second European home.”
Patrick Studener, head of Bird EMEA, added: “Paris is a significant market for us and one that demands a service like ours, so it makes sense to have key functions and talent based here. We’re also looking forward to having a place that our riders can come and learn more about our mission, how to ride and park safely and meet the team.”
In just a few years, Paris has become home to over 20,000 electric scooters from a number of companies, which also includes the likes of Uber’s Jump and Lime. As a result, the city has begun clamping down on the widely unregulated industry, starting with spot fines for people who badly park their scooters, who ride scooters on pavements, and those who breach a 20 km/hr (12.5 mph) speed limit. It also already bans scooters from parks.
Fines are just the first step and the French government is also currently drawing up a mobility law specific to the electric scooter industry. Eventually, the City of Paris will also look to hand out just two or three licenses to operate, meaning it would have to whittle down the number of startups considerably from the current 12 that are active in the city.
In March, it was reported that Bird had laid off around 40 of its US-based employees – approximately five per cent of its workforce – following annual performance reviews.