Shared electric bike and scooter services are constantly at war with each other — whether it’s battling for an operating permit in a highly coveted market, raising a massive round of funding or making a key hire. Today, the war continues with Lyft’s recent hiring of Eugene Kwak, Bird’s now-former head of vehicle product. Kwak’s first day as Lyft’s head of hardware product for bikes and scooters was this past Monday.
Bird has been on a tear as of late, between actively raising a massive D round at a $2.5 billion valuation and having been one of the first scooter startups to deploy its own custom-built scooter. The in-house scooters, previously overseen by Kwak, have proven to have a positive impact on Bird’s unit economics.
“Eugene was a member of our very robust vehicle design and engineering team that is lead by Scott Rushforth, Bird’s Chief Vehicle Officer, a Bird spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We wish Eugene all the very best in his future endeavors.”
Lyft, on the other hand, is still relying on Segway for its scooters. This hire, however, signals Lyft’s shift to deploying scooters built in-house.
In addition to Kwak’s hire, Lyft has spent the last couple of months beefing up its bikes and scooters hardware team in order to keep iterating on its products. Earlier this month, Lyft also brought on Marc Fenigstein, co-founder of the now-defunct electric motorcycle company Alta Motors. Fenigstein is Lyft’s product lead for new vehicles.
Last month, Lyft brought on Mark Holveck from Tesla, where he served as a senior manager for the technology research and development team. At Lyft, Holveck is the head of hardware technology.
“We couldn’t be more excited to add these three leaders to take our hardware team to the next level,” Lyft Head of Bikes and Scooters Dor Levi said in a statement to TechCrunch. “They bring experience from some of the top hardware technology companies in the industry, and we look forward to continue offering best-in-class mobility solutions to our riders to help them easily get around their cities.”
Lyft is undoubtedly hitting its stride as a multi-modal transportation provider. To date, Lyft operates its bikes and scooters in 20 markets. Just last week, Lyft had a major legal win when a judge granted the company a preliminary injunction to prevent San Francisco from offering permits to other bike-share services.
Although Lyft is newer to the micromobility space than Bird, it’s noteworthy that the company poached a key member of one of its major competitor’s teams. Given the relative newness of this space, any little bit of a leg up on the competition will surely help.
I’ve reached out to Bird and will update this story if I hear back.