E-scooter giant Bird acquires rival Circ

Circ, which operates in the UAE, will add as much as 300 employees to its Europe and Middle East markets following the deal

Circ became the first licensed micromobility operator in Abu Dhabi in July of last year. Courtesy Circ

American e-scooter firm Bird acquired its European rival Circ, which became the first licensed micromobility operator in Abu Dhabi last summer, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will help Bird – which predominantly operates in the US – get a foothold in markets within Europe and the Middle East.

“We’re excited to acquire Circ which is the clear European and Middle East leader. We like their laser focus on treating cities as their number one customer and their mindset of prioritising profitability over growth,” Travis VanderZanden, Bird’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement.

Bird said it will add more than 300 employees to European and Middle East operations following the deal. The acquisition will also enable the company to expand beyond the UAE.

"Circ with Bird are committed to the Mena region and will be expanding to additional markets this quarter," Jaideep Dhanoa, co-founder and chief executive of Circ Mena, told The National. Circ will not be rebranded to Bird within the region, he added.

Circ previously announced in October that it is expanding to Riyadh’s Digital City and Diplomatic Quarter in partnership with Raza, the real estate arm of Saudi Arabia’s Public Pension Agency.

It launched in Abu Dhabi in July after the commercial rental of e-scooters was legalised in the capital, and has completed over 500,000 kilometres of rides since then. It continues to offer a free ride of up to 15 minutes for all first-time users until March 31.

Circ started operations in Ras al Khaimah last week, offering scooter rentals in partnership with the RAK Transport Authority.

Bird, founded in Los Angeles in 2017, operates shared electric scooters in more than 100 cities.

Circ was founded in Berlin in 2018 by Delivery Hero co-founder Lukasz Gadowski and former Careem executive IQ Sayed. It operates in 41 cities in Europe along with its presence in the UAE.

“We look forward to servicing our cities in more ways with continued investments in the Middle East region, leveraging the increased resources and experience of our combined companies,” Mr Dhanoa said.

Meanwhile, competition amongst e-scooter firms is heating up regionally as Lime, which operates in 120 cities globally, began operations in Abu Dhabi in November.

Dubai banned the commercial renting of e-scooters last March but the authorities allow residents to use their own as long as they are used responsibly.

Demand for e-scooters in cities have helped the industry's biggest players, such as Bird and Lime, achieve multi-billion-dollar valuations in less than two years.

Bird recently received additional funding in its Series D round, taking the total investment received from $275 million (Dh1.01bn) to $350m. Its existing investors are joined by Target Global, Team Europe, Idinvest Partners and Venture Capital.