Technology

Waymo robo-taxi firm now has two CEOs

Take me to your leaders.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik stepped down from his leadership role at Google’s sister company today. He will retain an advisory role, according to an email posted on the company’s blog. He will be replaced by not one but two executives from Waymo: former COO Tekedra Mawakana and former CTO Dmtri Dolgov.

The timing of Krafcik’s departure is remarkable in that the company is entering a new phase of development. Waymo reportedly planned to expand its burgeoning robo-taxi service before the pandemic broke out. But now that there’s a vaccine-shaped light at the end of the tunnel, we can expect the Waymo One Robotaxi service and Waymo Via, an autonomous delivery service, to get a big boost.

Most interesting here is the company’s decision to choose co-CEOs rather than picking a single candidate. So far, the only hint of the “why” comes from Krafcik’s email:

Waymo’s new Co-CEOs have additional skills and experience – most recently as COO or CTO – and have been working closely together in close management positions at Waymo for years. Dmitri and Tekedra have my full trust and support and of course the full trust of Waymo’s board of directors and Alphabet leadership.

The strategy of the two CEOs is not new here. Last year, Netflix named its head of content strategy, Ted Sarandos, as co-CEO alongside longtime CEO Reed Hastings. And so far it seems like things are working out for the capital N. On the other hand, Salesforce tried the same thing with Keith Block and Marc Benioff, and it wasn’t the success the company had hoped for.

However, Waymo’s business model works more like Netflix than Salesforce. While Salesforce is a huge company doing a number of different things under the umbrella of “cloud-based software services,” Netflix can be broken down into two different models: creating things and streaming things.

And when it comes to Waymo, we see a two-pronged approach where the company’s focus is split on B2B offerings like fleets and turnkey autonomous delivery solutions and consumer-centric measures like robo-taxis and B2C last-mile delivery services.

It will be fascinating to see how everything develops over the next few years. And with luck, we’ll all be reading about the new leadership team’s many achievements in terms of the safety and comfort of a fully autonomous vehicle in the near future.

Published on April 2, 2021 – 18:13 UTC

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