Blue Duck CEO Out As Company Raises Millions In New Funding | Texas Public Radio

Blue Duck CEO Out As Company Raises Millions In New Funding

Oct 22, 2019

Blue Duck scooters announced Tuesday it raised $4.2 million in additional funding. The news comes after several critical months when the embattled company saw high-level departures, layoffs and the apparent removal of the company’s chief executive. 

Blue Duck founder Eric Bell was no longer listed as a CEO on the company’s website. Instead, he was listed as a founder. Now, former chief business officer Michael Keane held the position. The company declined to comment further. It wasn’t clear what role Eric Bell would play in the future of Blue Duck.

Related | Public Failure, Internal Strife, Lawsuits: Blue Duck's Short Ride Through San Antonio

Eric Bell, left, is no longer CEO of Blue Duck. The company declined to offer clarification as to his current role in the company.
Credit Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio

The e-scooter company currently operates in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Laredo. The company continues to target cities and campuses throughout the southeastern United States. It announced last week it would be expanding to Bryan, Texas, something the new money will be used for. 

"Investors continue their strong support of the growth of Blue Duck and the expansion of our business both into previously planned and recently targeted markets," said Paul Bell, Blue Duck Executive Chairman.

Blue Duck raised the $4.2 million as part of a simple agreement for future equity funding round, or SAFE, the company’s third. In 2018 Blue Duck raised more $4 million in SAFE funding. In SAFE rounds, investors get equity if certain triggers occur, like a company sale or an initial public offering.

The company’s expanding footprint and bank account come after one of the darker periods in its young history.

In July, Blue Duck failed to respond to San Antonio’s exclusive dockless vehicle contract in time to be considered, a determination that Blue Duck employees disputed. The loss means the company will have to remove its scooters from city streets later this year. TPR spent months speaking with more than a dozen current and former employees examining the error and found it was not an aberration. The company exhibited a pattern of delays, problems with technology, and created a workplace culture that saw a string of terminations and resignations. 

Related | City Staff Trimming List of Scooter Companies Allowed To Roll In Alamo City

Since mid-September, the company laid off its software and engineering staff, a process it began earlier this year as it pivoted to a third-party provider. It also hired several new executives. Tuesday’s announcement said the new money would also be used to build out its executive and operations ranks. 

The money raised is a fraction of the $20 million the company had been seeking mid-year. Blue Duck couldn’t be reached for comment but a story from the Rivard Report stated they still hoped to raise that amount at another time.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive.