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The Station: Bird spikes Circ in the Middle East, Kitty Hawk folds Flyer, Cruise attempts a hiring coup

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every Saturday in your inbox.
Hi friends and first-time readers. Welcome back to The Station, a newsletter dedicated to all the present and future ways people and packages move from Point A to Point B. I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch.
In the past two weeks, demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest police brutality following the murder of George Floyd (and many other black men and women who have been killed by police). Newsletters about transportation hardly seem important right now.
I will note that transportation, or the lack of access to it, has played a huge part in continued and systemic racism in the United States. The Station aims to highlight the founders, urban planners, bike advocates, lawmakers, tech companies and venture capitalists who are helping — and hurting — the efforts to make transportation accessible to all.
Reach out and email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, offer up opinions or tips. You can also send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.
Alright, time to dig in. Vamos.

Micromobbin’


The Station: Bird spikes Circ in the Middle East, Kitty Hawk folds Flyer, Cruise attempts a hiring coup

The scooter and bike scrapping keeps on keepin’ on. Last month, it was Uber tossing more than 20,000 JUMP bikes into a recycling yard following its deal to offload the JUMP brand to Lime.
This week, it’s scooter sharing company Bird. The company shut down scooter sharing in several cities in the Middle East, an operation that was managed by Circ, the micromobility startup it acquired in January. About 100 Circ employees were laid off and as many as 10,000 Circ scooters were sent to a third-party UAE-based company for recycling, TechCrunch learned from multiple sources.
Bird couched the shutdown as “pausing of operations” and was quick to note that it was still in Tel Aviv. This pause comes less than six months after Bird announced it had acquired its European counterpart and touted plans to expand. Bird’s decision to shut down Circ’s entire Middle East business affects operations in Bahrain, UAE and Qatar.
Bird says it will return to the region. But my sources disagree, noting that the company ruined its relationships with transportation agencies in places like Abu Dhabi.
The Station: Bird spikes Circ in the Middle East, Kitty Hawk folds Flyer, Cruise attempts a hiring coup

Meanwhile, electric-bike maker Cowboy released a new iteration of its bike, the Cowboy 3. It’s a relatively small update that should make the experience better for newcomers, Roman Dillet reports.
Oh and remember our little snippet last week about Superpedestrian? Megan Rose Dickey noted Superpedestrian, the startup that makes self-diagnosing electric scooters, had teamed up with Zagster and quietly launched a shared electric scooter service called LINK.
Turns out Zagster is Superpedestrian. Growth equity firm Edison Partners said this week it has sold its portfolio company Zagster to Superpedestrian.

Deal of the week


The Station: Bird spikes Circ in the Middle East, Kitty Hawk folds Flyer, Cruise attempts a hiring coup

This week, we turn our attention to Volkswagen’s $2.6 billion investment into Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based self-driving car startup that came out of stealth in 2017 with $1 billion in backing from Ford. The deal, which was announced in July 2019, was finalized this week.
It’s notable for a few reasons. Argo is now a global company with two customers — VW and Ford — as well as operations in the U.S. and Europe. The company’s workforce just popped by more than 40% as Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID), the self-driving subsidiary that was launched in 2017 to develop autonomous vehicle technology for the VW Group, will be absorbed into Argo AI. AID’s Munich offices will become Argo’s European headquarters.
Argo also has offices in Detroit, Palo Alto and Cranbury, N.J. The company has fleets of autonomous vehicles mapping and testing on public roads in Austin, Miami and Washington, D.C.
This is all very exciting. Of course, now the hard work begins. Argo must juggle two huge, traditional automotive customers and maintain multiple offices with more than 1,000 employees. Welcome to the big time.
The Station: Bird spikes Circ in the Middle East, Kitty Hawk folds Flyer, Cruise attempts a hiring coup
An Argo AI autonomous vehicle at Carnegie Mellon University.
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