Ford’s e-scooter company Spin exits markets and lays off staff

Spin, the e-scooter-sharing start-up that Ford acquired in 2018, is shifting its focus in its pursuit of profitability, leaving nearly all open licensing markets worldwide. In a message from Ben Bear, the company’s CEO, he said Spin has begun winding down its operations in a few markets in the US, as well as throughout Germany and Portugal. The company will also cease operations in Spain, which could happen sometime on February 22.

Open licensing markets are places where multiple scooter companies can run businesses, with no fleet size limits. Bear said they are “creating an uncertain business environment” with “race-to-the-bottom pricing”. It doesn’t sound like Spin is doing well in those markets — Bear wrote that Spin hasn’t been able to provide “the kind of reliable, high-quality service [it] to be proud of [itself] on to its riders and city partners” in those locations – so it has decided to take a different path instead.

Spin expanded its business after it was acquired by Ford to a number of cities in the US and around the world. In 2021, it implemented a new scooter model that is more durable than the previous one and partnered with Google to show users the nearest e-bike or e-scooter on Maps. Unfortunately, these were not sufficient to prevent this restructuring.

Going forward, Spin will target markets with limited suppliers in the US, Canada and the UK. Particularly in places where cities and campuses ‘select partners through a competitive procurement process’. Apparently Spin gets double the revenue in those kinds of places compared to locations with a free market. Shifting the focus to those places makes sense, but closing branches unfortunately also means that the company has to let staff go: the move affects a quarter of the staff, who receive severance payments and a stipend.

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