KEY POINTS

  • Lime lays off 100 employees
  • Lime also exits cities in the U.S and Latin America
  • The e-scooter startup aims for profitability in 2020

Going on a breezy ride onboard a two-wheeled solar-powered scooter that is scattered all over the city is one way to commute or enjoy an off day. However, the business is hitting a rough patch and e-scooter rental may soon be a thing of the past. Lime, which is one of the companies that offer rentable dockless electric scooters, is ending operations in several U.S. and Latin American cities.

The month of January should be a celebratory month for the startup and its crew as it celebrates its third birthday. Instead, it is met with news of the company closing shop in quite a number of cities, and it's all due to its unprofitability. 

The transportation business, with EV makers (especially in China) and ride-sharing companies alike, struggles to make decent returns for its investors. Lime, unfortunately, falls in the same but smaller scale category. While it offers a greener solution and a faster option for pedestrians, it is also intensely competitive and unprofitable segment.

Lime is laying off 14 percent of its workforce, which translates to about 100 employees, as reported by Axios. It is also pulling out operations in Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio,  Montevideo, Lima, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Bogota, and Buenos Aires.

The Andreessen Horowitz-backed company undertook this cost-cutting move to make room for profitability aspirations in 2020.

"Financial independence is our goal for 2020, and we are confident that Lime will be the first next-generation mobility company to reach profitability," Lime CEO Brad Bao said in a statement for TechCrunch.

Axios also noted that Lime is not alone in the e-scooter providers, naming Bird, Scoot, Lyft, and Skip that have had layoffs in the past year as well.

The transportation business is indeed a tough one for all its participants. Despite the innovation, it's not a guarantee for profitability. It will be interesting to see if the 69 new markets that Lime entered in the span of the year will allow the company to stay.