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Scooter Startup Superpedestrian Shuts Down Amid Financial Troubles

Superpedestrian, an electric scooter sharing startup once seen as an innovator in the micromobility space, is ceasing operations in the United States and exploring a sale of its European business, Bloomberg has learned. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company made the surprise announcement in a Zoom call with employees on Dec. 15, citing financial difficulties as the primary reason.

Funding Failures Catch Up

Superpedestrian raised $125 million just 18 months ago in a funding round led by firms like Spark Capital and General Catalyst, but it apparently burned through most of that cash despite efforts by some investors to keep the company solvent.

“Even our investors have put in money to keep us afloat even to this point,” said Alexander Berg, Superpedestrian’s director of U.S. operations, on the call. “It wasn’t for lack of trying.”

The startup had assigned patents to lenders Jefferies and Antara Capital as collateral for loans in 2022 in an attempt to stay financially viable. But ultimately even its backers could not prevent the impending shutdown.

An Ambitious Vision Crumbles

The closure marks a swift fall from grace for a company that sought to differentiate itself through advanced scooter safety and diagnostic software. Backed by nearly $100 million in total funding, Superpedestrian expanded to over 60 cities globally and was still plotting major expansion plans in the U.S. and Europe as recently as this year.

CEO Assaf Biderman and his team had envisioned Superpedestrian emerging as a leader in tech-enabled urban mobility. Its patented vehicle systems were designed to boost rider safety through real-time error correction. The company acquired tech firm Navmatic last year to further enhance its scooter fleet capabilities.

But the entire electric scooter industry has faced economic and competitive headwinds lately. Major player Bird saw its valuation plunge after going public, mirroring troubles at smaller startups. Widely available capital in the sector has dried up. Ultimately, Superpedestrian’s pedestrian safety systems and ambitious vision weren’t enough to overcome challenging unit economics.

Cutting Losses and Moving On

Superpedestrian will now wind down U.S. operations by Dec. 31 after pulling vehicles off streets into warehouses for storage. A skeleton crew will remain on staff temporarily as management sells off assets.

The company is also reportedly in talks with an unknown buyer to offload its European business unit as it looks to stem losses. The European operation mainly comprises fleets in markets like Germany, France, and the UK.