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In Portland, Scooter Start-Ups Played Nice. Regulators Took Note.

SAN FRANCISCO — The e-scooter boom began in Santa Monica, Calif., about 16 months ago. Electric scooters, owned by start-ups looking to mimic the success of ride-hailing companies like Uber, appeared around town. The idea was simple: Use a smartphone app to rent a scooter and then leave it at the end of the ride for the next person.Soon, people in cities from San Francisco to Paris were complaining that the scooters were all over sidewalks — usually without the approval of local officials.In Portland, Ore., city officials worried that they would soon get their own flock of uninvited scooters. So they established a four-month pilot program…

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Bits: The Week in Tech: It’s Not Easy Being a Unicorn

Each week, technology reporters and columnists from The New York Times review the week’s news, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two about the most important developments in the tech industry. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.Hello, It’s Erin Griffith, reporting, happily, from my home base in San Francisco and not the carnival of virtual assistants, shiny screens, crowded smart homes and greasy VR demos in Las Vegas. Our correspondents made the CES maze of gadgets look almost fun, which anyone who has been there before knows is an impressive feat.Back in the land of magical, billion-dollar start-up unicorns, things have been quieter,…

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State of the Art: How Tech Companies Conquered America’s Cities

I’m not saying America’s cities are turning into dystopian technocapitalist hellscapes in which corporations operate every essential service and pull every civic string.But let’s take a tour of recent news from the metropolises.■ In Seattle, the City Council decided last week to undo its plan to impose a $275-per-employee tax on local businesses, a measure it had approved unanimously last month as a way to address the city’s homelessness and housing-affordability crisis. Why the retreat? Many of the city’s businesses balked at the tax, including Amazon — and no one needed to remind Seattleites that Amazon is very publicly looking for a second city to plant its…

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Bird, the Electric Scooter Start-Up, Is Said to Draw an Investment Frenzy

SAN FRANCISCO — More scooters may soon land on America’s sidewalks as the West Coast scooter war propels a rush of fund-raising.Bird, an electric scooter start-up, is raising $300 million in new funding that would value the company at $2 billion, according to three people with knowledge of the financing, who asked not to be identified because the proceedings were confidential. The round is set to be led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and will include other investors such as Accel Partners, the people said.The financing would cap one of the fastest and largest start-up fund-raising frenzies in recent memory. Last month, Bird began…

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The Shift: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Electric Scooters

In fact, the only scary scooter rides I had were the times that cars veered a little too close to the bike lane I was riding in. If cities want to encourage safe scooter riding — and they should, given the benefits they have for congestion and environmental health — they should create protected scooter lanes and encourage drivers to give them more room.2. Scooters are cluttering sidewalks, roads and other public spaces.This anti-scooter case was made most memorably by a columnist at The Los Angeles Times who complained that “these electric scooters are everywhere — roads, sidewalks, street corners, parking lots, boardwalks, apartment complex hallways —…

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