The props most likely to turn up in summertime Instagram photos tend to stay relatively consistent from year to year: The flamingo pool float might be replaced with a unicorn, or the fresh coconut held in front of the ocean swapped out for a fancy cocktail, but the differences are minimal and easily forgettable. (Straw hats with “Out Of Office” embroidered in swirling letters aren’t going anywhere.)
There is, however, a new prop popping up in lifestyle shots this summer: Scooters. Electric scooters to be precise.
They’re on the Venice Beach boardwalk, surrounded by sand and palm trees. They’re in front of brightly colored, geometric-patterned murals. They’re shot as standalone accessories, or taken out in pairs on date night. Make no mistake: These are not your little brother’s Razor A2s. Instead, they belong to an increasingly valuable class of e-scooter start-ups that’s looking to cash in on the rideshare economy by offering an autonomous alternative to cars and bikes.
One of the companies leading the charge is Bird, which was founded by Travis VanderZanden, a former executive at both Uber and Lyft. The e-scooter startup launched in beta in Santa Monica in September 2017 and has expanded at lightspeed: Within just 10 months the company has reportedly reached a valuation of $2 billion, and was one of the fastest startups to reach Silicon Valley’s coveted unicorn status. Meanwhile, other companies are racing to get in on their own share of the scooter funding craze: Lime, a bike-share business,, has quickly become a top competitor. The company launched its own fleets of e-scooters, and is currently in a $335 million fundraising round. This week, Uber invested in Lime as part of its own efforts to diversify beyond its existing car-based offerings. There’s also Spin, another company that started out in bike-sharing and quickly scooted into the other two-wheeled transit mode in February. Save some minor color variations — Bird has pops of red, while Spin opts for orange and Lime for lime green — the e-scooters look and work relatively similarly.
At their core, e-scooter companies promise to do what any mode of transit does: Get you from point A to point B, this time on a slim foot-deck that carries you at speeds up to 15 mph. But the desire to integrate them as part of a curated Instagram lifestyle is something novel. …read more