Autonomous Vehicle Startup Zoox Dumps its CEO
Zoox Inc., the Menlo Park, Calif. robotics startup, has abruptly removed CEO and co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay only weeks after he led a $500 million fundraising round for the 4-year-old company.
Kentley-Klay (pictured) tweets that his dismissal came “without warning, cause or right of reply,” adding that “today was Silicon Valley up to its worst tricks.”
Zoox, which is valued at $3.2 billion, has not commented on the reason for the firing. Sources tell Bloomberg News that the startup will promote Jesse Levinson, the company’s second co-founder and chief technology officer, to president.
The company also has named Carl Bass, a Zoox board member and former CEO of product development software giant Autodesk Inc., as the company’s chairman.
Kentley-Klay, who has no prior automotive experience but plenty of entrepreneurial zeal, believed that Zoox’s approach of designing a vehicle to be fully autonomous would prevail over competitors who have retrofitted existing vehicles with autonomous-enabling technology.
While at the Tokyo Motor Show this week various vehicle manufacturers were showing off all manner of cars and crossovers and transportation devices that typically had to do with something autonomous, connected and/or electrified (ACE, as CAR’s Brett Smith categorizes this burgeoning field), the guys from Chevy were in El Segundo, California, showing off a different take on what can best be described as “toys for boys”—boys who do or don’t have driver’s licenses.
Although all OEMs and suppliers do their utmost best to assure nothing but top-notch quality is achieved for their vehicles and systems, sometimes things simply go wrong because, well, that’s just how the Universe is.
Continental, an automotive supplier that has a deep engineering bench, is making a huge organizational change, one that Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the executive board, explains is necessary because, as he puts it, “The industry is changing at a high pace, so we have to change, too.”