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Silicon Valley Autonomous Driving Startup Zoox Replaces its CEO

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【Summary】One of Silicon Valley’s most promising and valuable new startups has ousted its CEO in a surprise move today. Zoox, an autonomous driving startup with a valuation of $3.2 billion, dismissed its Chief Executive Officer Tim Kentley-Klay. He was voted out by the company's board.

Derrick Smith    Aug 22, 2018 6:48 PM PT
Silicon Valley Autonomous Driving Startup Zoox Replaces its CEO

One of Silicon Valley's most promising and valuable new startups has ousted its CEO in a surprise move today. Zoox, an autonomous driving startup with a valuation of $3.2 billion, dismissed its Chief Executive Officer Tim Kentley-Klay Bloomberg has reported, citing its own unnamed source.  

The timing is unusual, as Zoox just announced it raised $500 million in new funding in July and raised around $800 million to date. Co-founder Jesse Levinson, who is Zoox's CTO, will be promoted to president.

The four-year-old company has ambitious plans and is building a driverless vehicle from scratch that it hopes to launch in 2020. The company stands out, as many of its competitors are working on self-driving technology that can be fitted to existing vehicles, with no plans to build an entire vehicle from the ground up.

zoox gates.jpg

Tim Kentley-Klay (R), poses with Zoox co-founder Jesse Levinson (L) and Microsoft founder Bill Gates in San Francisco

Bloomberg Businessweek recently profiled the rapid ascendance of Zoox in Silicon Valley, which was driven largely by the unorthodox entrepreneurial zeal of Kentley-Klay, an Australian native with no prior automotive industry experience.

"We are a startup pitted against the biggest companies on the planet," Kentley-Klay told Businessweek. "But we believe deeply that what we're building is the right thing. Creativity and technical elegance will win here."

Zoox is working on multiple aspects of self-driving cars, including software and building its own autonomous taxi service. Last summer Zoox made headlines when it poached 17 engineers from Apple's secretive ‘Project Titan' autonomous car project.

Before starting Zoox, Kentley-Klay was offered a job with Google's self-driving project, now called Waymo. He turned it down, and has touted Zoox's strategy of building its own vehicles for full autonomy as wiser than the standard approach of retrofitting existing cars that Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo and others are taking.

The Zoox board, which includes Levinson, voted to oust Kentley-Klay, said the person familiar with the situation. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment.


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