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Self-driving car company Argo AI, a once-hot Pittsburgh startup, is shutting down

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Argo AI, a self-driving technology company based in Pittsburgh, is shutting down. Its two largest investors, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, will absorb parts of the company, including some employees.

It is unclear how many people will lose their jobs.

In a statement Wednesday, Argo AI said, “In coordination with our shareholders, the decision has been made that Argo AI will not continue on its mission as a company. Many of the employees will receive an opportunity to continue work on automated driving technology with either Ford or Volkswagen, while employment for others will unfortunately come to an end.”

Multiple sources told 90.5 WESA that Argo’s leadership delivered the news at a virtual all-staff meeting Wednesday afternoon. Volkswagen later said it would pull back its support for the company, according to Reuters.

“We are incredibly grateful for the dedication of the Argo AI team, and so proud of our achievements together,” Argo co-founders Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander said in a joint statement.

“The team consistently delivered above and beyond,” they continued, “and we expect to see success for everyone in whatever comes next, including the opportunities presented by Ford and VW to continue their work on automated driving technology.”

The move comes on the heels of a round of layoffs in July. At that time, about 150 people lost their jobs. Many of them had been involved in recruiting and sourcing staff. The company said in a statement at the time that it was “making prudent adjustments to our business plan to best continue on a path for success.”

Tech firms across the U.S. have struggled in today's economic downturn. Collectively, they’ve laid off more than 44,000 workers since the beginning of the year, according to Crunchbase.

Following its founding in 2016, Argo hired more than 1,700 employees. The company had been valued at $7.5 billion in 2020. Together, Ford and Volkswagen invested a reported $3.6 billion in the venture. The auto companies had partnered with Argo on various projects, including collaborations with Lyft and Walmart Inc. in Miami and Austin.

In 2021, Argo planned a round of private fundraising, and it had ambitions of going public as soon as this year.

Updated: October 26, 2022 at 4:31 PM EDT
This story has been updated with a statement from the company and its founders.