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Exclusive: A Pair of Uber Executives Are Leaving to Join Electric Scooter Startup Bird

October 11, 2018, 8:14 PM UTC

The scooter talent wars are heating up.

Two high-level Uber employees have left the tech giant to join electric scooter startup Bird.

Dennis Cinelli, who was head of finance of global rides at Uber, will serve as Bird’s vice president and head of finance. Yibo Ling, who was Uber’s director of corporate development, will now be the vice president of corporate development at Bird and will also lead the startup’s China team. Both Cinelli and Ling will report directly to Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden.

“As Bird enters its second year, we’re continuing to expand our talented executive team to build on and scale our momentum,” VanderZanden said in a statement. “Dennis and Yibo both bring valuable experience expanding markets and I look forward to working with them closely as we continue on our mission.”

VanderZanden himself spent two years at Uber as the vice president of global driver growth before he left to launch the electric scooter company. Bird has since raised more than $400 million in venture funding and expanded its operations across 100 cities worldwide.

Scooters have become a recent area of interest to Uber, which recently deployed Jump-branded scooters onto the streets of Santa Monica and invested in Lime while adding the scooters as an option on its app, in effort to compete with Bird.

But VanderZanden doesn’t see Uber’s existing customer base of millions of people as much of a threat, touting Bird’s first-mover advantage as key to outmaneuvering his rivals.

“We were the first in the world to do electric scooter sharing, and we launched a little over a year ago,” VanderZanden said on Tuesday. “We’re the furthest along from a supply chain standpoint as well as from a government relations standpoint.”

And Bird wresting two experienced executives away from Uber may be testament to the scooter company’s rising profile. An Uber spokesperson confirmed the departures and declined to comment further.

Cinelli, who spent two years at Uber helping build and lead the finance team responsible for Uber’s global rides operations, said “coming from Rideshare 1.0,” he sees that Bird has “taken the transportation space to the next level by pioneering Rideshare 2.0 and solving many transportation problems.”

Whether its 1.0 or 2.0, there’s only one transportation problem that really matters: Is there enough room on the road for all these ridesharing companies? And if not, who will end up left in the dust?