The Station: Fowl and Lime layoffs, pivots in a COVID-19 period and a $2.2 trillion deal

Good day people, welcome again (or hello for the primary time) to The Station, a weekly e-newsletter devoted to the all of the methods folks and packages transfer round this world. I’m your host, Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch.

I even have began to publish a shorter model of the e-newsletter on TechCrunch . That’s what you’re studying now. For the entire enchilada — which comes out each Saturday — you’ll be able to subscribe to the e-newsletter by heading over here, and clicking “The Station.” It’s free!

Earlier than I get into the thick of issues, how is everybody doing? This isn’t a rhetorical query; I’m being earnest. I need to hear from you (word my electronic mail beneath). Perhaps you’re a startup founder, a security driver at an autonomous automobile developer, a enterprise capitalist, engineer or gig economic system employee. I’m all for how you might be doing, what you’re doing to manage and the way you’re getting round in your respective cities.

Please attain out and electronic mail me at to share ideas, opinions or suggestions or ship a direct message to @kirstenkorosec.


It was a tough week for micromobility amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Fowl laid off about 30% of its workers as a result of uncertainty attributable to the coronavirus.

In a memo obtained by TechCrunch, Fowl CEO Travis VanderZanden mentioned:

The unprecedented COVID-19 disaster has pressured our management staff and the board of administrators to make many extraordinarily tough and painful selections referring to a few of your teammates. As , we’ve needed to pause many markets all over the world and drastically lower spending. As a result of monetary and operational impression of the continued COVID-19 disaster, we’re saying goodbye to about 30% of our staff.

The fallout from COVID-19 isn’t restricted to Fowl. Lime can be reportedly contemplating shedding as much as 70 folks within the San Francisco Bay Space.

In the meantime, Wheels deployed e-bikes with self-cleaning handlebars and brake levers to assist cut back the danger of spreading the virus. NanoSeptic’s know-how, which is powered by mild, makes use of mineral nano-crystals to create an oxidation response that’s stronger than bleach, based on the corporate’s web site. NanoSeptic then implements that know-how into skins and mats to show something from a mousepad to door handles to handlebars into self-cleaning surfaces.

The upshot to all of this: COVID-19 is popping shared mobility on its head. Which means lay offs will proceed. It additionally means firms like Wheels will attempt to innovate or pivot in hopes of staying alive.

Whereas some firms pulled scooters off metropolis streets, others modified how they marketed providers. Some turned efforts to gig economic system staff delivering meals. Others, like shared electrical moped service Revel, are specializing in healthcare staff.

Revel is now letting healthcare workers in New York lease its mopeds free of charge. To qualify, they only must add their worker ID. For now, the free rides for healthcare staff is proscribed to Brooklyn, Queens and a brand new service space from higher Manhattan all the way down to 65th avenue. Revel expanded the world to incorporate hospitals in one of many epicenters of the illness.

Revel continues to be renting its mopeds to the remainder of us on the market, though they encourage folks to solely use them for important journeys. As you would possibly guess, ridership is down considerably. The corporate says it has stepped up efforts of disinfecting and cleansing the mopeds and helmets. Revel additionally operates in Austin, New York Metropolis, Oakland, and Washington. It has suspended service in Miami per native laws.

Megan Rose Dickey (with a cameo from Kirsten Korosec)

Deal of the week

money the station

Usually, I might spotlight a big funding spherical for a startup within the “deal of the week” part. This week, I’ve broadened my definition.

On Friday, the Home of Representatives handed a historic stimulus package deal often called the Coronavirus Assist, Aid, and Financial Safety or “CARES” act. President Donald Trump signed it hours later. The CARES act incorporates an unprecedented $2.2 trillion in complete monetary reduction for companies, public establishments and people hit arduous by the COVID-19 pandemic.

TechCrunch has simply began what might be a multi-day dive into the 880-page doc. And within the coming weeks, I’ll spotlight something associated or related to the transportation trade or startups right here.

I’ll focus at present on three gadgets: airways, public transit and small enterprise loans.

U.S. airways are receiving $58 billion. It breaks all the way down to about $25 billion in loans for business carriers, $25 billion in payroll grants to cowl the 750,000 workers who work within the trade.  Cargo carriers will obtain $four billion in loans and $four billion in grants. These loans include some strings connected. Airways must agree to not lay off staff via the tip of September. The package deal forbids inventory buybacks and issuing dividends to shareholders for a yr after paying off one of many loans.

Public transit has been allotted $24.9 billion. The CARES Act supplies virtually thrice the FY 2020 appropriations for this class, based on the American Public Transportation Association. The funds are distributed via a system that places $13.79 billion to city, $2 billion to rural, $7.51 billion in the direction of state of fine restore and $1.71 billion for high-density state transit. APTA notes that these funds are for working bills to stop, put together for, and reply to COVID-19 starting on January 20, 2020.

Amtrak obtained an extra $1 billion in grants, that directs $492 million of these funds in the direction of the northeast hall. The remaining goes to the nationwide community.

Small enterprise loans are a vital piece of the invoice, and an space the place many startups could also be targeted. There’s a lot to unpack right here, however in fundamental phrases the act supplies $350 billion in loans that might be administered by the Small Enterprise Administration to companies with 500 or fewer workers. These loans are supposed to cowl an eligible borrower’s payroll, lease, utilities bills and mortgage curiosity for as much as eight weeks. If the borrower maintains its workforce, among the mortgage could also be forgiven.

Enterprise-backed startups in search of reduction might run into issues qualifying. All of it comes all the way down to how workers are counted. Usually, SBA seems to be at an organization’s associates to find out in the event that they qualify. So, a startup owned by a personal fairness agency is taken into account affiliated with the opposite firms in that agency’s portfolio, which may push employment numbers far past 500. That rule additionally appears to use to venture-backed startups, wherein greater than 50% of voting inventory is held by the VC.

The steering on that is nonetheless spotty. However Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley regulation agency, mentioned in current explainer that the rule has the “potential to be problematic for startups as a result of the SBA affiliation guidelines are extremely advanced and will trigger lenders to group collectively a number of in any other case unaffiliated portfolio firms of a single enterprise capital agency in figuring out whether or not a borrower has not more than 500 workers.”

One last word: The SBA has waived these affiliation guidelines for debtors within the meals providers and meals provide chain trade. It’s unclear what that may imply for these meals automation startups or firms constructing autonomous autos for meals supply.

Extra deal$

COVID-19 has taken over, however offers are nonetheless taking place. Right here’s a rundown of a few of partnerships, acquisitions and fundraising spherical that acquired our consideration.

  • Lilium, the Munich-based startup that’s designing and constructing vertical take-off and touchdown (VTOL) plane and aspires to run in its personal taxi fleet, has raised $240 million in a funding spherical led by Tencent. That is being couched as an inside spherical with solely present traders, an inventory that included participation from earlier backers similar to Atomico, Freigeist and LGT. The valuation will not be being disclosed. However sources inform us that it’s between $750 million and $1 billion.
  • Wunder Mobility acquired Australia-based automobile rental know-how supplier KEAZ. (Monetary phrases weren’t disclosed, however as a part of the deal KEAZ founder and CTO Tim Bos is becoming a member of Wunder Mobility) KEAZ developed a cell app and back-end administration software that lets rental companies, automobile dealerships, and firms present shared entry to autos.
  • Cazoo, a startup that buys used vehicles after which sells them on-line and delivers to them your door, raised $116 million funding. The spherical was led by DMG Ventures with Normal Catalyst, CNP (Groupe Frère), Mubadala Capital, Octopus Ventures, Eight Roads Ventures and Stride.VC additionally taking part.
  • got here out of stealth with an announcement that it has raised $13 million in a seed spherical that features funding from A.Capital Ventures, Amplo, Binnacle Companions, Sound Ventures, Fontinalis Companions and SV Angel. says it developed software program for autonomous autos that may skip conventional steps of simulation, on-road testing and annotated information set — all instruments which are used to coach and enhance the so-called “mind” of the self-driving automobile.
  • RoadSync, a digital cost platform for the transportation trade, raised a $5.7 million in a Sequence A led by Base10 Companions with participation from repeat investor Hyde Park Enterprise Companions and Companyon Ventures. The corporate developed cloud-based software program that lets companies bill and settle for funds from truck drivers, carriers and brokers. Their platform is in use at over 400 places nationwide with over 50,000 distinctive transactions month-to-month, based on RoadSync.
  • Self-driving truck startup TuSimple is partnering with automotive supplier ZF to develop and produce autonomous automobile know-how, similar to sensors, on a business scale. The partnership, slated to start in April, will cowl China, Europe and North America.

A last phrase

Bear in mind, the weekly e-newsletter options much more mobility information and insights. I’ll go away ya’ll with this one chart from Inrix. The corporate has launched a U.S. traffic synopsis that it plans to publish each Monday. The chart exhibits visitors from the week of March 14 to March 20. The upshot: COVID-19 diminished visitors by 30% nationwide.

inrix traffic drop from covid

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