Micromobility operator Spin is exiting 10 U.S. markets due to a combination of weak demand, over-regulation, under-regulation and poor cost structures, according to a company-wide email sent Friday by Philip Reinckens, CEO of Spin, which was shared with TechCrunch.
Reinckens said the market exits would help Spin cut costs and focus on growing markets that offer “the best financial prospects for the business in 2023.” Reinckens took over from Ben Bear as CEO in May, months after Berlin-based Tier bought Spin from Ford and officially entered the US market.
According to the email, Spin is leaving Atlanta, Bakersfield, Cleveland, Detroit, Ft. Pierce, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Omaha, Miami and Wichita. All workers affected by market exits have been notified by their market leadership team, Reinckens wrote. Although Spin has tried to place affected personnel in alternate roles wherever possible, there will undoubtedly be layoffs. Reinckens said Spin provides severance packages and job resumption and job search assistance for those affected. The CEO did not respond in time to TechCrunch’s request for information on the number of workers who would be unemployed.
Reinckens said the decision was not made lightly and pointed to factors beyond the company’s control.
“We based the decision on an assessment of current market fundamentals and our ability to overcome key financial challenges,” Reinckens wrote. “Factors such as weak consumer demand, prohibitive regulations (curfews, no-traffic/parking zones), unregulated competitive landscapes and/or disadvantageous operating cost structures significantly limit our ability to operate profitably in these markets.”
It has long been Spin’s policy to seek out more exclusive urban partnerships. Manifesting this strategy means leaving markets where they don’t. Two months ago, Spin exited Seattle and the Canadian markets and laid off 10% of its workforce — mostly white-collar jobs in politics and government and even a handful of executive positions — to resolve layoffs between Spin and Tier and put the former on the path to near-term profitability.
At the start of the year, Spin also decided to leave “all permit markets open”, which led to a 25% reduction in staff.
Spin’s move also follows rival Bird’s flight from “several dozen additional, mostly small to medium-sized markets” in the United States, as well as Germany, Norway and Sweden, for similar reasons. In a blog post at the time, Bird said he was specifically exiting markets that lack a “robust regulatory framework,” which leads to too much competition and an oversupply of vehicles on crowded streets.
Shared micromobility company Lime hasn’t seen any major layoffs or market exits since the pandemic. Josh Meltzer, head of government affairs at Lime, told TechCrunch he sees over-regulated markets as a potential culprit for companies now choosing to leave cities.
“For many years, new companies that wanted to quickly gain market share and enter new cities promised too many technological features and operational capabilities that did not reflect reality,” Meltzer told TechCrunch. “These promises, in some cases, have led to unrealistic expectations from regulators. Although we haven’t seen it as much lately, this has led to markets that are highly regulated and therefore difficult to tap into, which could explain why some companies now feel stuck.
One such technology feature was the scooter ARAS (advanced driver assistance systems) which are advertised to help detect and correct curb driving and improper parking. Spin worked with Drover AI to implement a computer vision-based system in select cities, but neither company confirmed to TechCrunch which cities and whether the program is still evolving today.
Like many tech companies this year, Spin needs to focus on growing markets where it has a chance of making a profit.
“We are confident that following this difficult decision, we are able to pursue our profitability strategy and can continue to build our success in the remaining markets,” Reinckens continued, noting that more information on the outlook future of the company would be discussed. at the company’s next all-hands on Friday.
TechCrunch reached out to multiple cities to comment on Spin’s departure, but did not receive a timely response. Reinckens said in his email that Spin was working closely with regulators in the remaining markets to “ensure full transparency throughout this process.”
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