The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has invested US$50-million in electric scooter startup Bird Rides Inc., whose electric vehicles are now in more than 100 cities around the world including Calgary and Edmonton.
“Bird fits directly within our strategy to invest in innovative and disruptive tech sectors such as sustainable mobility,” said Jeffrey R. Smith, the Caisse’s senior managing director, digital investment strategy, in a release. He added the investment supports the investment giant’s commitment “to take part in the transition toward a less carbon-intensive global economy.”
Bird founder and chief executive Travis VanderZanden said his company was focused on improving the revenue per scooter “instead of spending to grow the company at any cost,” echoing recent concerns surrounding the delayed initial public offering of money losing office-sharing company We Co.
The Caisse investment was part of a US$275million financing of the startup co-led with previous Bird investor Sequoia Capital.
The arrival of fleets of rentable dockless electric scooters in urban centres around the world has attracted a lot of buzz in the past two years, with Bird and rivals, including Neutron Holdings Inc.’s Lime, drawing hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from the likes of Bain Capital, Uber Technologies Inc. and Sequoia Capital.
But while the scooter companies tout their environmentally friendly options for urban transportation, residents in cities such as Berlin and Milwaukee have complained users clog bike lanes, drive hazardously on walkways and clutter sidewalks by leaving machines haphazardly when they are done their rides.
The Caisse investment adds to the US$273-million in venture capital Bird previously raised since it was founded two years ago.
The Caisse, with $327-billion in net assets, is one of Canada’s most active funders of technology companies, with a particular focus on Canadian scale-up companies and startups in the artificial intelligence space.