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The CEO of Google’s self-driving car spinoff has stepped down



The CEO of Google's self-driving car spinoff has stepped down.
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After more than five years on the job, the executive who managed Google’s self-driving car project’s transformation into a separate business worth billions of dollars is stepping down.

In a Friday blog post, John Krafcik revealed his departure as CEO of Waymo, a Google spinoff, citing his desire to enjoy life as the planet recovers from the pandemic.

Krafcik, 59, wrote, “I’m looking forward to a refreshing time, reconnecting with old friends and family, and exploring new parts of the world.”
As co-CEOs, two of Krafcik’s top lieutenants will take his place. Dmitri Dolgov, who has worked on self-driving cars since Waymo was established inside Google in 2009, will concentrate on autonomous vehicle technology.

The corporate side of the operation will be handled by Tekedra Mawakana, a lawyer who previously served as Waymo’s chief operating officer. Since Google hired him in 2015,

Krafcik has remained an advisor to Waymo, which has established itself as the clear leader in autonomous driving. Soon after, Google’s self-driving division became Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is also Google’s parent company.

Waymo forged alliances with many major automakers under Krafcik’s leadership, and the company introduced the first ride-hailing service to pick up passengers without a driver or anyone else in the car.

Waymo One is currently only available in the Phoenix metropolitan area, but the company plans to expand into other markets as it refines a technology that is supposed to change the auto industry.

Waymo’s successes have given it a market cap of about $30 billion, according to analyst estimates from last year, after the company raised $2.25 billion in its first round of outside funding. To close the round of funding, Waymo raised $1 billion from outside investors. However, Waymo’s projected value of $30 billion last year was significantly lower than that of $175 billion in 2018, according to a Morgan Stanley research survey.

The wide swing represents the complexities in designing self-driving cars that can safely traverse roads while still coping with conventional vehicles powered by humans.

The challenge has proved much more challenging than Waymo and hundreds of other self-driving car companies expected five or six years ago.

Despite its advances in autonomous driving, Waymo isn’t thought to have ever made money under Krafcik’s leadership. Waymo does not make its financial statements public. It is part of Alphabet’s “Other Bets” division, which comprises many other far-flung ventures funded by Google’s digital advertising empire’s vast profits.

Over the last three years, Alphabet’s “Other Bets” have lost almost $13 billion.

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