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The head of Google’s self-driving project is coming down

The head of Google’s self-driving project is coming down

John Krafcik, CEO of the Google self-driving project Waymo, Has left the $ 30 billion group after more than five years and will replace two senior executives, the company said Friday.

Krafcik, who will continue to be a consultant, said he is leaving Waymo to “start new adventures” by taking a “refreshing period” to spend time and travel with friends and family, blog post.

He told the Financial Times he planned to leave “a little earlier”, but Covid-19 delayed plans. He and his wife moved to Austin, Texas, and bought the house last year.

Tekmora Mawakana Waymo’s head of operations and Dmitri Dolgov, head of technology, will be in charge.

It has been taken as a business leader driverless cars Since Google invented the category in 2009, the sector has suffered from overconfidence and uproar.

In 2018, Waymo entered into agreements with Jaguar and Fiat Chrysler to start building more than 80,000 autonomous vehicles for the driverless fleet starting that year. Progress has been much slower, with Waymo One drivers only operating in part of Phoenix today.

Still, at Krafcik’s command, Waymo has remained ahead of its rivals, including General Motors-sponsored Cruise, Aurora and Argo AI. “Looking back over the last five or six years, they are far from the only ones who were too optimistic about the timeline for autonomy,” said Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey. “They didn’t get it, but no one else did.”

Prior to Krafci’s entry into 2015, the Google project conducted public displays of its two-seater Firefly autonomous vehicle. Krafci, Hyundai’s chief operating officer for the North American operations, focused his efforts solely on Waymo’s self-driving system – the so-called “Driver,” rather than partnering with companies to compete with them.

Last year Waymo made agreements with Volvo to build driverless vehicles, cargo vans with Fiat Chrysler and semi-trucks with Daimler, to name a few.

The company also raised $ 3.2 billion in its valuation to the north of $ 30 billion. Krafcik called the deal “the single largest fundraising company in the history of the universe in the history of the universe.” Investors include Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz, T Rowe Price and Fidelity institutional investors and the Magna and AutoNation auto groups.

Commenting on Krafcik’s unexpected departure, the two people said that a double heir strategy could be indicative of the power struggle. One person said Mawakana, who had previously worked for eBay, Yahoo and AOL, was a “natural choice” for Krafcik’s successor, but that possibility could jeopardize Dolgov’s anger. Toyota’s research arm.

However, Krafcik said “there was absolutely no power struggle.” He noted that he had made the succession plan himself, which was later approved by the owner of Alphabet Google and the Waymo committee. “There’s a lot of support for both of them and they work great together,” he said.

One person also noted that Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s chief financial officer, has been “tightening the screws” recently – Waymo has burned billions of dollars – and that “there could be growing patience” as the project could start to generate significant revenue.

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