After five and half years guiding Waymo, Alphabet’s subsidiary developing autonomous-drive technology, John Krafcik has decided it’s time for someone else to run the company. Actually, it will be a pair of Waymo’s top executives, Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov, who will become co-CEOs of the company.
In a blog post explaining his decision to resign as CEO, but remain with Waymo as an advisor, Krafcik wrote, “now, with the fully autonomous Waymo One ride-hailing service open to all in our launch area of Metro Phoenix, and with the fifth generation of the Waymo Driver being prepared for deployment in ride-hailing and goods delivery, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to pass the baton to Tekedra and Dmitri as co-CEOs.”
Tekedra Mawakana moves into the top job four years after joining Waymo and most recently serving as Chief Operating Officer. Dmitri Dolgov started his career with Waymo in 2009 when the company was created and known as the Google self-driving car project. He becomes co-CEO after most recently being Waymo’s Chief Technology Officer.
In a joint statement sent to Waymo employees, Mawakana and Dolgov wrote, “We’re committed to working alongside you to build, deploy and commercialize the Waymo driver and drive the success of our incredible team and this company. We’re energized by the road and opportunity ahead of us.”
While Waymo has established itself as a leading developer of autonomous-vehicle technology with more than 20 million miles driven on public roads and more than 20 billion miles driven in simulation, the company’s conservative approach to expanding operations has frustrated those hoping to see self-driven vehicles all around the country. That deliberate approach was a central part of Krafcik’s tenure as CEO.
When meeting with reporters, Krafcik would regularly stress the importance of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles being as safe as possible. In March of 2018, after a pedestrian was hit and killed by an Uber autonomous vehicle being tested on a public road in Arizona, Krafcik told CNBC, “part of our responsibility at Waymo is to make sure the world, the cities in which we perform and the regulators who regulate those cities understand our technology.”
The Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing service has been providing rides in the Phoenix area since 2017. As it has grown from a pilot program with a limited number of pre-selected customers into a ride-hailing service open to the public, utilizing a fleet of vehicles that operate without a driver. While Waymo has discussed expanding the Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing program to other cities for public use, the company has not given a definitive plan for doing so.
Meanwhile, Waymo Via, which is designed to autonomously move goods is being tested with trucking hubs in Arizona and Texas. Late last year Waymo and Daimler’s Freightliner struck a deal to develop fully autonomous trucks.
—CNBC’s Meghan Reeder contributed to this article.