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Episode 5: Nick Shapiro, VP & Global Head of Trust & Safety at Lime (Electric Scooter & Bike-Sharing App)

By Lee Davis

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 6.57.28 PM

This podcast aired on February 27, 2020. You can watch the live recording on YouTube.

In this episode of The Brief we discuss trust and safety in the transportation technology sector with Nick Shapiro, VP & Global Head of Trust & Safety at Lime. Lime is an electric scooter & bike sharing app that offers micro-mobility solutions.

Lime’s micro-mobility solutions include dock-free rental bikes, e-assist bikes, and electric scooters that are available to rent anytime using Lime’s smartphone app. Quick and convenient transportation is as easy as tapping the Lime app to find a ride near you, scanning the QR code to unlock the bike or scooter, and you’re ready to go!

Lime enables city dwellers to stop worrying about traffic and finding a parking spot. Lime’s bikes and scooters can be parked and locked at your destination for a fraction of the cost of a taxi or a ride share vehicle.

Full Transcript

Lori Lefcourt  0:00  

Hello and welcome to this episode of The Brief by Spectrum Labs. I'm your host, Lori Lefcourt. In honor of Safer Internet Day, Spectrum Labs has dedicated the month of February to discussions and activism surrounding the state of Internet safety. 

Global organizations like UNICEF have called for concerted action to prevent bullying and harassment for the over 70% of young people online worldwide. Disturbingly, nearly half of young people (47%) have reported receiving intimidating, threatening or nasty messages online. 

In addition to publishing articles, social media and this episode of our podcast, Spectrum Labs is taking action by spearheading a Safer Internet Day pledge. We're inviting companies to commit at least 1% more revenue to trust and safety. 

Whether the additional money goes to hiring people increasing mental health benefits or moderators, or buying technology, we know increasing trust and safety spending will create a safer Internet for all. 

If you represent a company that is willing to commit to this pledge, Please email and we will add your logo to our pledge page. Also, we'd like to invite all trust and safety representatives to participate in Spectrum Labs’ inaugural State of Trust and Safety report. 

Thank you guys and I hope you enjoy this episode! Today I'm joined by Nick Shapiro, the VP of Lime and Global Head of Trust and Safety. Thanks for joining today.


Nick Shapiro  1:30  

Thanks for what you guys are doing in spotlighting trust and safety across the industry.


Lori Lefcourt  1:33  

Of course. And if you could start us off by telling our audience a little about yourself, and what Lime does?


Nick Shapiro  1:41  

So I come from a line as the former Head of Trust and Risk at Airbnb. Before that I was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the CIA and a senior counterterrorism Homeland Security aide to President Obama in the White House National Security Council. So I left [the] government [sector] in about 2015 and moved to San Francisco. I've been to Yemen more times than I'd been to San Francisco before I moved here. So I was not not sure what I was going to expect when I got here. 

And one thing I did realize: that I was a little different than most of the engineers and product managers out in Silicon Valley. They are all brilliant. And they are very important tools in our trust and safety program.

But they're also optimistic out here. And I realized that coming from my background in the government, in [the] CIA in the White House, I bring some cynicism to the industry. And I bring a kind of sense of, “Are you kidding me? You can't do that! Someone might get hurt!” My cynicism as a background and the can-do spirit of Silicon Valley has become a good partnership.


Lori Lefcourt  2:51  

Yeah, I think you definitely need a little bit of both, especially on the consumer side, too. I think people want to know that someone is taking this extra seriously. When you're on the back end, sometimes you can't see what we're seeing and what our concerns are as consumers. So great. Let's talk about Lyme. So tell us about Lyme as a company and what they do.


Nick Shapiro  3:11  

Yeah, so Lime is at the forefront of micro-mobility. And Lime is trying to connect people every day with a cleaner, safer way of transportation. It was a mission that caught my eye very quickly. And it was a place that I thought took trust and safety very seriously. And so far, I thought, I can make a real impact. 

So when I came in, I knew immediately to launch a review of the trust and safety program, and [to] really start building on the great work that had happened before I got here -- restructuring the trust and safety team. I gave the company and the team three main priorities for trust and safety, which are:

(1) We need to do everything we can to make our hardware -- the devices that people ride -- as safe as possible, 

(2) To communicate with people what we do [in order] to keep them safe, and more importantly, what they need to know to use Lime safely. 

(3) We need to make sure we can respond if something goes wrong and make it right.

So the team works on those three things every single day. We're making more and more improvements. And I'm excited to see what the company can do moving forward.


Lori Lefcourt  4:19  

That's really awesome. Thank you. Are there any specific initiatives that you'd like to talk about today that are new for 2020?


Nick Shapiro  4:26  

Yeah, absolutely. One of the biggest things I'm trying to do is make sure that we're constantly using technology to build trust and to keep people safe. A great example of that is a pilot program we just announced a few weeks ago. It's called our Sidewalk Riding Detection Technology. So this is first of its kind -- technology where we're using accelerometer data vibration. We can detect if a user is riding on the sidewalk with 99% accuracy. 

Well, the most interesting thing about this from my point of view is what we can then do is take that data where people are choosing to ride on the sidewalk, and we can send that data to a city. And we can say, “This is where people don't feel safe riding on the street. This is where it'd be good to invest in a bike lane.” 

Because at the end of the day, every city is looking to have more micro-mobility in their city. Everyone feels the crunch of cars. People understand it's an outdated way of commuting, especially in a city. But cities don't know exactly where to invest their resources in putting in things like bike lanes, and other ways that make it safer and more convenient. 

So what we can do is take our data and use our technology to partner with these cities, and again, show them exactly where people would like to have a bike lane, or a protected lane for bikes, for scooters, for other modes of transportation that might come in the future.


Lori Lefcourt  5:51  

Wow, that's incredibly interesting. I love how it's just not the strategy. And this initiative -- it's not just for Lime. It's actually for the people. As someone who's in New York, Chicago and the West Coast, I can totally understand how that's something that's definitely needed as more people are starting to find these extra modes of transportation and use Lime. 

So I think that's really, really interesting. Well, let's talk about the team a little bit. How does the trust and safety team at Lime work together to establish these strategies and innovate for future issues?


Nick Shapiro  6:27  

Yeah, [we do] so with teams organized is around those three priorities that I laid out. So I have a Director of Hardware Safety and a Director of New Safety Programs, and a Director of Consumer Response. So those three people are the leads on the team, as well as my Deputy Director. They work across the company and touch pretty much every single part of Lime in order to put on these types of programs. 

So a couple examples: We put on something called First Ride Events. We know from studies that you're more likely to get hurt using Lime, or any type of mobility device, on your first ride. You're most unsure of how to do it. 

So not only do we do “how to ride” tutorials in the app, and put information online, but we also run First Ride Events in person, all over the world. And we’ve had thousands of people go through them and we've done them in more than 60 cities so far. We have a live employee and the community comes together and we teach people exactly how to ride, how to use the scooter safely, how to respect pedestrians, how to be safe from cars, [and] what you should do when you first get to the scooter. 

This was a project that took the entire company to get behind [it] because we needed to really reach out to every other department for help in putting on these events. Same thing with when we're looking at products -- like how we do ID Scans to make sure there aren’t underage riders. 

The trust and safety team is really the end of the day. Coordinating engineers, product managers, ops, legal comms, government ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our riders safe.


Lori Lefcourt  8:05  

So this trust and safety team -- besides those three initiatives you spoke about and the people who spearhead them. Basically, in summary, you guys are working with every single department to come together to prepare events and also prepare your consumers and customers about how to do this properly and create that community.


Nick Shapiro  8:23  

And to respond when something goes wrong. You know, just like anything else on the internet, or in travel, you know, you can't make it 100% secure, right? There's always gonna be some risk. Whether you're going online, or whether you're walking across the street, taking a scooter, or getting in a car, getting on a plane and staying in an Airbnb. 

But our job is to mitigate the risk as much as we can. And then when something goes wrong, we work to make it right.


Lori Lefcourt  8:48  

I love that. And thank you for sharing. So let's move on and talk about some of the major issues that you guys encounter and see in the transportation sector when it comes to trust and safety.


Nick Shapiro  9:00  

Sure. The biggest thing that we see is this need to work with cities to put in more bike lanes. At the end of the day, we can make the scooter as safe as possible. People can be wearing helmets. But if you have a car that does something inappropriate and collides with someone on a bike or a scooter, you know, there's quite a disadvantage in that safety respect. 

So the thing that we're trying the most is to really improve the infrastructure across the United States -- to really match what we’re seeing. 

Right now, we have many less incidents in Europe because of the advanced bike culture that we have there. There's so many fewer cars in the cities in Europe. People are free to ride their bikes and ride scooters without coming up against a truck. 

And the good news is cities want to transform. They do want to have less cars. They do want to have more bikes, more scooters, more of these modes of transportation. They're cleaner, they're easier, they're prettier. They're nicer. And frankly, they're safer. So we need to give cities the data and help advocate for these things. 

We also have a program called Live Heroes where in many different markets, people can round up their fare to the closest dollar and that extra money, those few pennies or quarters, whatever, goes toward advocacy programs to help build bike lanes to protect our riders.


Lori Lefcourt  10:21  

That's a really creative strategy to raise more money to do that. I love that. And this is something that you guys are doing -- that you're working with the government to do?


Nick Shapiro  10:30  

Yeah, absolutely. The government's bike coalitions have a long history of very aggressive, influential, powerful biker safety groups, throughout most communities all over the world. So we are trying to partner with them as much as we can, because we want the same thing.


Lori Lefcourt  10:46  

That's really creative. So, head-on collisions with trucks and cars. Wow. Are there any particular cities? This is kind of a personal question...who do you see that this happens to the most?


Nick Shapiro  10:57  

No, we do know that. Again, there’s more of an advanced bike culture in Europe, which tends to be a much better match for mobility needs for e-scooters. 

But again, cities in America want to do this -- they want to change. And with things like the sidewalk riding detection data that we can now give cities, we expect to be able to give them exactly where they should put these things so they can make their own community safe.


Lori Lefcourt  11:25  

Do you guys have any trust or safety policies around protecting people when they're riding at certain times of the day or night?


Nick Shapiro  11:34  

So one thing I would love to bring up with respect to that is drinking and riding. You know, people know it's illegal to drive a car after they've been drinking. I don't know if everyone knows it's also illegal to do that when you're on a scooter. 

So at certain hours of the night and before big events in certain markets we actually had, it's called the Sobriety Quiz. I wouldn't really call it a “quiz”. It's more of an awareness campaign where, you know, the app will say, “Have you been drinking? And if you have, you can't ride the scooter.” 

[We do this] to make people aware, because I think some people actually think, “I'll be safe. And I'll have some drinks. But I'll take a scooter instead of driving a car.” When, in fact, it's just as dangerous to be drinking and riding a scooter. 

So we have things in the app that do remind folks of those things. And we're also working on things to make [our equipment] more reflective for the riding at night. We give out 250,000 free helmets to riders. And we also are building a store where you can buy reflective vests to make sure that [you’re safe] riding at night as well.


Lori Lefcourt  12:39  

I mean, Nick, it sounds like you've thought of almost everything for all these major issues that are very creative techniques for your community! Honestly, things I wouldn't have ever thought about. I appreciate you sharing that with me. 

What are some of the other ways that cities, states or the federal government help or hinder the micro-mobility sector? I know we already spoke about [the fact] that you're partnering with them, trying to get more bike access on roads, but do they hinder you in any way, shape or form?


Nick Shapiro  13:10  

No, I think most cities really like this mode of transportation. It is something that people in their communities really want. So we found a way to have good partnerships with most cities. 

I think it's well-known that years ago when scooters became popular, the companies were kind of doing more of the aggressive approach. They were just dropping the scooters ahead of time and that was obviously getting cities quite upset. So I think everybody has learned their lesson. Lime, especially, but we really try to work with cities ahead of time now, before entering the market. 

I have my team, a law enforcement engagement team, as well as [those that] work with police after an accident or injury to make sure they know how they can get the information that they want. 

And we have procedures to take care of the speeder. Check it again before we deploy it after an accident. But I found that [they’re not] against you. Do you want these kinds of transportation? They just want it done in the right and safe way. And they have a partner in Lime to do exactly that.


Lori Lefcourt  14:07  

That's really great that cities and governments are willing to innovate their cities. And you know, it's great for the environment as well. I think you touched upon that. All right. 

Well, thank you so much for sharing that. Is there anything else that we missed that is an important initiative for Lime? I think we covered so much.


Nick Shapiro  14:26  

No, I think these were great questions. And I appreciate the opportunity to talk about all the different things that we're doing.


Lori Lefcourt  14:32  

Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for listening to this minisode of The Brief. Until next time. See you later!

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