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Transportation Weekly: Amazons secret acquisition and all the AV feels

Welcome to Transportation Weekly; Im your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. I cover all the ways people and goods move from Point A to Point B today and in the future whether its by bike, bus, scooter, car, train, truck, robotaxi or rocket. Sure, lets include hyperloop and eVTOLs, or air taxis, too.
Transportation Weekly: Amazons secret acquisition and all the AV feels

Yup, another transportation newsletter. But I promise this one will be different. Heres how.
Newsletters can be great mediums for curated news a place that rounds up all the important articles a reader might have missed in any given week. We want to do a bit more.
Were doubling down on the analysis and adding a heaping scoop of original reporting and well, scoops. You can expect Q&As with the most interesting people in transportation, insider tips, and data from that white paper you didnt have time to read. This isnt a lone effort either. TechCrunch senior reporter Megan Rose Dickey, who has been writing about micro mobility since before the scooter boom times of 2017, will be weighing in each week in our Tiny But Mighty Mobility section below. Follow her @meganrosedickey.
Consider this a soft launch. There might be content you like or something you hate. Feel free toreach out to me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share those thoughts, opinions, or tips.
Eventually, well have a way for readers to sign up and have Transportation Weekly delivered each week via email. For now, follow me on Twitter@kirstenkorosecto ensure you see it each week.
Now, lets get to the good stuff.



ONM


There are OEMs in the automotive world. And here, (wait for it) there are ONMs original news manufacturers.
Transportation Weekly: Amazons secret acquisition and all the AV feels


This is where investigative reporting, enterprise pieces and analysis on transportation will live.
We promised scoops in Transportation Weekly and here is one. If you dont know journalist Mark Harris, you should. Hes an intrepid gumshoeing reporter who TechCrunch has been lucky enough to hire as a freelancer. Follow him @meharris.
Amazon quietly acquired robotics company Dispatch to build Scout
Transportation Weekly: Amazons secret acquisition and all the AV feels


Remember way back in January when Amazon introduced Scout, their autonomous delivery bot? There was speculation at the time that Amazon had bought the Estonian-based company Starship Technologies. Harris did some investigating and discovered some of the intellectual property and technology behind Scout likely came froma small San Francisco startup called Dispatch that Amazon stealthily acquired in 2017.
Its time to stop thinking about Amazon as just an e-commerce company. Its a gigantic logistics company, probably the biggest on the planet, with a keen interest and the cash to pursue those interests in automation. Think beyond Scout. In fact, wander on down this post to the deal of the week.



Dig In


Each week, transportation weekly will spend a little extra time on an approach, policy, tech or the people behind it in our Dig In section. Well run the occasional column here, too.
This week features a conversation with Dmitri Dolgov, the CTO and VP of engineering at Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet.
Transportation Weekly: Amazons secret acquisition and all the AV feels

Ten years ago, right around now, about a dozen engineers started working on Project Chauffeur, which would turn into theGoogle self-driving project and eventually become an official company called Waymo. Along the way, the project would give rise to a number of high-profile engineers who would go on to create their own companies. Its a list that includes Aurora co-founder Chris Urmson, Argo AI co-founder Bryan Salesky and Anthony Levandowski, who helped launch Otto and more recently Pronto.ai.
What might be less known is that many of those in the original dozen are still at Waymo, including Dolgov,Andrew Chatham, Dirk Haehnel, Nathaniel Fairfield andMike Montemerlo.
Dolgov and I talked about the early days, challenges and whats next. A couple of things that stood out during our chat.
There is a huge difference between having a prototype that can do something once or twice or four times versus building a product that people can start using in their daily lives. And it is, especially in this field, very easy to make progress on these kinds of one-off challenges.
Dolgovs take on how engineers viewed the potential of the project 10 years ago
I also use our cars every day to get around, this is how I got to work today. This is how I run errands around here in Mountain View and Palo Alto.



A little bird


We hear a lot. But were not selfish. Lets share.

Transportation Weekly: Amazons secret acquisition and all the AV feels
An early investor, or investors, in Bird appear to be selling some of their shares in the scooter company, per a tip backed up by data over at secondary trading platform EquityZen. Thats not crazy considering the company is valued at $2 billion-ish. Seed investors should take some money off the table once a company reaches that valuation.
Weve heard that David Sacks at Craft Ventures hasnt sold a single Bird share. We hear Tusk Ventures hasnt sold, either. That leaves a few others, including Goldcrest Capital, which was the lone seed investor, and then Series A participants Lead Edge Capital, M13, and Valor Equity Partners.
Got a tip or overheard something in the world of transportation? Email me or send a direct message to@kirstenkorosec.
While youre over at Twitter, check out this cheeky account @SDElevator. We cant guarantee how much of the content is actually overheard and how much is manufactured for the laughs, but its a fun account to peruse from time to time.


Is this really the state of VC today? https://t.co/GmPhv3FN6q
SelfDrivingElevator (@SDElevator) February 7, 2019
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