Bird Scooter Under Fire On Social Media For Laying Off 30% Of Workforce Via Zoom

Published on March 28, 2020

Bird Scooter is under fire this weekend after allegedly laying off as much as 30% of its total workforce—around 400 people—via an online call on the virtual meeting platform, Zoom. The company, which is facing increased hardship during the COVID-19 crisis as its shared scooter program nearly came to a complete halt in recent weeks, is desperately trying to save cash to survive the rest of the year.

In a Zoom call on Friday with hundreds of staff members, Bird laid off its employees nearly all at once in a sweeping effort to preserve its cash reserves as long as possible. Shared, public scooters are, understandably, suffering greatly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis as people are not only asked to stay inside as much as possible, but avoid any shared spaces or products.

Responses to the above tweet reveal that the company’s layoff message was not pre-recorded, but it wasn’t enough to stop people on social media from criticizing the move. Balthrop, the Chief Technology Officer for Bird, revealed in a different tweet that many of the positions that faced layoffs were in the engineering department.

The layoffs were first reported by TechCrunch before going viral on social media Friday evening and into Saturday. In the report, the outlet revealed that employees that were laid off will receive pay for another couple of weeks as they transition into searching for new jobs elsewhere.

E-Scooters represent one major sphere of the tech industry being effected negatively by the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a result, the scooters have been abandoned across major cities throughout the United States as scooter brands rush to remove their scooters until the threat of coronavirus passes. Companies like Lime, another shared scooter platform popular around the world, announced recently that it would be cutting its services altogether for the foreseeable future.

What once disrupted the tech and transportation space on a global scale has now become a controversial figure in the coronavirus era. Where several of the major companies like Bird and Lime have earned millions in venture capital funding rounds over the last year, they now face a potential end if the virus proves to change life as we know it from here on.

If people are concerned about shared spaces and contracting illnesses, they’re unlikely to pick up a scooter they find on the street.

“The COVID-19 virus is an unprecedented challenge facing cities and communities around the world,” said Brad Bao, the CEO and founder of Lime Scooters, in a statement on March 21.  “Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground.  Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe. In all of our markets, except for South Korea, we will begin winding down and pausing our service to reflect public health guidance. Lime continues to closely monitor developments around the world and remains in coordination with health and regulatory authorities in more than 25 countries,” the statement continued.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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