- Definers Public Affairs, the firm Facebook used to smear critics, sent emails on behalf of electric scooter company Lime, TechCrunch reports.
- Some of the emails were candid about being press releases sent for Lime, but one was much more oblique and targeted rival scooter company Bird.
- The email nudged journalists to scrutinise Bird’s numbers on its website.
Facebook was rocked last week by a New York Times exposé which revealed that it hired Republican-linked PR firm Definers Public Affairs to smear its critics. Facebook swiftly cut ties with the company.
Now TechCrunch reports that electric scooter startup Lime hired the same PR firm, which sent journalists emails trying to discredit Lime’s rival, Bird.
TechCrunch went back through the emails it had received from Definers Public Affairs, the company named in the Times’s report, and found multiple instances of what it termed “oppo mud-slinging.”
TechCrunch says the only emails it received from Definers, which were clearly marked as press releases commissioned by a company, were for Lime.
However, TechCrunch also says it received a much more oblique pitch which it said was likely to have been sent on behalf of Lime. The email read:
“I read your piece on Bird’s custom scooter and delivery. Just wanted to flag that Bird’s numbers seem off based on what they have listed on their website: https://www.bird.co/ “They’ve taken a bunch off the list. Seems odd since they just announced 100 cities two weeks ago. Thought you’d find this interesting.”
Lime is yet to respond to Business Insider’s repeated requests for comment. Bird declined to comment.
Lime and Bird are among a host of companies fighting it out to dominate the electric scooter market around the world. They were only founded last year but have raised millions of dollars in funding and racked up a collective valuation of more than $3 billion.