Bird-hunting for electric scooters

David Trammel's picture

Did anyone know this was a thing?

Electric Scooter Charger Culture Is Out of Control

“'Bird hunting' has become a pastime and a side hustle for teens and young professionals, but for some it’s a cutthroat business.

"Every afternoon around 4 p.m., when school lets out, Brandon, an 18-year-old high-school senior in Los Angeles who asked to be referred to only by his first name, goes 'Bird hunting.' He heads for his minivan and, on the drive home, he’ll swing through convenient neighborhoods, picking up about 13 Bird electric scooters along the way, tossing them into the back of his car

“'I have a whole system,' he says. 'I’ll go home, put the 13 I initially caught on the chargers. They’ll charge for about three hours until around 7 or 8 p.m.'—when Bird makes more scooters available for charger pickup. 'Then I’ll go back out'”

"Over the course of the next few hours, Brandon loops around his Santa Monica, California, neighborhood collecting as many scooters as possible. He brings back his bounty and, as his parents sleep, neatly sets them up to charge in batches overnight.

"The next morning he wakes up early, eats breakfast, and drops them off in groups of three at designated Bird Nests, designated pickup areas for scooters, on his way to school. For performing this service, Bird pays Brandon, a contract worker, up to several hundred dollars a night. On one particularly successful night, Brandon brought home $600."

David Trammel's picture

Wonder what the increase in his parent's electric bill (not to mention his gas for his car) is running?

Sometimes I think these kind of articles are hype for the "next big disruptor". Just as Uber has outsourced the taxi industry's expense of car maintenance, insurance and fuel to their drivers, this outsources the recharging and distribution of charged scooters to their bounty hunters.

And you know doing that, still makes the company money.

I'm coming to the opinion that many of the 1% know that its all circling the crapper, and they are just trying their damnedest to skim off any little bit of the collective pie they can before it collapses, in some vague hope they can buy themselves an out to all the bad that we will be seeing soon.

We have a radio that is set to one of the big stations here, playing at work. One of the most repeated ads is from a car dealer. Their pitch, "Only one dime for a down payment". Used to be that a big down payment was a way that a auto dealer (or any other big ticket item seller) had a way to cushion the occasional person who defaulted on their loan. Same with banks and home loans.

Now though, loans are immediately bought by second party companies, which bundle the loans together with hundred of other loans, and get resold to investors.

Banks and auto dealers no longer have any downside to selling via loans to people who have no way of affording those payments or even an intention of paying off the loan in full.

To paraphrase a old Cold War saying, I wonder if its time to "Duck and Cover"?

Like so many inventions, the scooter was a child of necessity: Specifically, the need to get a bratwurst without looking like an idiot.

One night in 1990, Wim Ouboter, a Dutch-Swiss banker and amateur craftsman, was “in the mood for a St. Gallen bratwurst at the Sternengrill in Zurich,” or so the story goes. He wanted to get from his house to the brat place and then to a bar, stat, but the stops seemed too far apart to walk, and too close to drive. What he really needed, Ouboter decided, was a mode of transportation that would let him swiftly cover that micro-distance. A bike seemed like too much trouble to take out of the garage. What he wanted was a kick scooter.

Ouboter was a big fan of the mode—he came from a self-described family of “scooter freaks,” and he and his siblings had enjoyed hurtling down hills on clunky wooden kickboards as kids. For a brat-to-beer trip, though, he needed a grown-up upgrade—something durable enough to handle an adult rider, but also small and inconspicuous. “The problem is, if you’re a big guy and you’re riding such a small scooter, people will look at you weird,” he told me. “So you have to make it collapsible in order to bring it into a bar afterwards.”

No such machine existed, as far as he could tell. So he decided to make it himself.