An official who oversaw the transformation of Google’s automotive car project at a multibillion-dollar corporate company has stepped down after more than five years in office.
John Krafcik announced his resignation as CEO of Waymo, a company that came out of Google, in a letter written on Friday expressing his desire to enjoy life as the world emerges from the epidemic.
“I look forward to a time of refreshment, reconnection with old friends and family, and discovering new parts of the world,” wrote Krafcik, 59.
Two of Krafcik’s top executives will replace him as CEO. Dmitri Dolgov, who has worked in self-driving cars since Waymo launched within Google in 2009, will focus on private car technology. Tekedra Mawakana, a lawyer for former Waymo CEO, will be taking over the business side of the project.
Krafcik will remain a mentor to Waymo, a company that has proven itself to be a clear leader in independent driving since Google hired him in 2015. Shortly thereafter, Google’s self-driving unit moved to Waymo, an Alphabet-owned company, also a Google Parent.
Under Krafcik’s leadership, Waymo formed a partnership with several major car manufacturers and introduced the first passenger transport service to pick up passengers without the driver or anyone else in the vehicles. That service, called Waymo One, only works in the major cities of Phoenix, but Waymo plans to expand to other markets as the company continues to improve the technology expected to transform the automotive industry.
Waymo’s intervention has left it with an estimated market value of $ 30 billion, based on analysts’ estimates made last year after the company earned $ 2.25 billion in its first round of investment from outside the Alphabet. But that estimate has dropped dramatically since 2018 when Morgan Stanley’s research report estimates that Waymo was worth about $ 175 billion.
The massive turnaround highlights the challenges of building self-driving vehicles that can travel on the roads safely while still interacting with traditional human-controlled vehicles. That job proved to be more difficult than Waymo and many other companies working in self-driving technology that you imagined five or six years ago.
For all its advances in driving independently, Waymo does not believe he ever made money during Krafcik’s reign. Waymo does not disclose its financial results. It operates within part of the alphabet called “Other Betting” which includes other remote projects funded by the huge profits found in Google’s digital advertising empire.