Bird e-scooters are eliminating service in the Middle East.
According to Tech Crunch and social media, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Circ, the company that owns Bird e-scooters, to shut down operations across the Middle East.
Circ, the E-scooter company that acquired Bird back in January, has announced that they are shutting down their service in several cities in the Middle East as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, there are approximately 8,000-1000 Circ e-scooters in circulation between Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. According to a former Circ employee who asked to remain anonymous, Bird is paying $300,000 to have the e-scooters removed from the region.
According to the company, the scooters are not being removed permanently but are instead having their operations paused due to hot weather. The company says they will take the opportunity to recycle some older machines.
“Following extreme wear and tear, the Circ vehicles no longer met our rigorous quality standards,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Selling or re-use of these vehicles would potentially result in safety and reliability issues, which would not have been fair or ethical to the purchasers or potential riders. We look forward to resuming our service throughout more parts of the region later this year.”
Reports are conflicted, however, as approximately 100 Circ employees have been laid off and as many as 10,000 Circ scooters have been sent to a third-party UAE-based company for recycling, as a result of the supposed “pause in operations”.
Despite the claim that this is only a pause in operations, 75 people comprising the Circ team in the Middle East were laid off as a result of the move. “They’re completely shutting down the operation,” said the former employee. “They’ve pulled out and closed the Middle East. Everyone is unemployed.”
Bird says they will continue their operations in Tel Aviv, where they currently still operate their own fleet.
While Bird e-scooters are reportedly leaving the Middle East, it is unclear if this is a permanent move or just a temporary pause in operations. While the company says the move is just temporary, other now former employees have been laid off, sparking speculation that the move may be permanent.