John Krafcik, the CEO of Google’s self-driving car project Waymo, has announced to step down and kick off new adventures.
Tekedra Mawakana, chief operating officer at Waymo, and chief technology officer Dmitri Dolgov, will work jointly as co-CEOs.
“After five and a half exhilarating years leading this team, I’ve decided to depart from my CEO role with Waymo and kick-off new adventures. To start, I’m looking forward to a refresh period, reconnecting with old friends and family, and discovering new parts of the world,” Krafcik said in a blog post on Friday.
Google hired Krafcik in 2015. He worked at Ford and was president and CEO of Hyundai’s American operations.
“Google reached out to me in March 2015 with an intriguing opportunity to lead a small project working on autonomous vehicles. The technology seemed a promising way to improve road safety, something I’d been focused on in my prior work in the automotive industry,” Krafcik said in a LinkdIn post.
During that period, Google was uniquely positioned as a company making breakthroughs in both artificial intelligence and vehicle autonomy.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin championed the launch of the AI-focused Google Brain in 2011, and acquired DeepMind in 2014.
Google later transformed into Alphabet, and Waymo became a unique company within this new corporate structure.
This allowed Waymo to offer its own equity to employees, seek external investors, and to create a new culture distinct from Google’s, the outgoing CEO said.
Earlier this year, Elon Musk said that Tesla has better hardware and software than Google’s self-driving car unit to attain full self-driving system.
“To my surprise, Tesla has better AI hardware & software than Waymo (money),” Musk said in a tweet.
He responded to Krafcik who had said that Tesla has taken a misguided approach to developing fully autonomous cars and its “full self-driving” system will fail to live up to its billing.