Waymo CEO John Krafcik Steps Down

By Amit Chowdhry ● April 3, 2021
  • John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo (Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary), has stepped down from the company. These are the details.

John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo (Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary), has stepped down from the company. And Krafcik is being succeeded by the Waymo chief operating officer Tekedra Mawakana and chief technical officer Dmitri Dolgov, who will be serving as co-CEOs. Krafcik decided to step down in order to travel more and pursue other projects, but he will remain as an adviser to the company.

Mawakana became COO of the company in 2019 and previously worked in various roles at AOL, Yahoo, and eBay. And Dolgov became CTO in 2016 and he previously worked at Toyota Research Institute.

Mawakana had previously headed up the public policy and communications at Waymo. And her government experience will be essential in order to get Waymo vehicles on public roads and help drive legislation involving the rules around self-driving vehicles.

Dolgov had worked as one of the original members of the self-driving project at Google over a decade ago, before it spun out to become Waymo. And at Toyota, he worked on the company’s self-driving vehicle program and was part of the DARPA Urban Challenge team at Stanford University, which emphasized researched on autonomous technology.

By having more technical CEOs, Waymo appears to be elevating the importance of getting the company’s own autonomous vehicles on the road. Krafcik has been especially skilled at the dealmaking aspects of the company as he was able to secure agreements with partners like Stellantis NV, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive, Volvo, Daimler AG’s truck group for integrating Waymo technology into cars and trucks.

Last year, Waymo had raised about $3.2 billion and the company rolled out a driverless taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona. But Krafcik acknowledged that the rollout of autonomous vehicles has been slower and more costly than what was expected.

“It’s an extraordinary grind,” said Krafcik in an interview with the Financial Times in January. “I would say it’s a bigger challenge than launching a rocket and putting it in orbit around the Earth…because it has to be done safely over and over and over again.”

Back in 2018, Waymo was forecasting that it would be able to get up to 20,000 I-PACE vehicles within the first two years of production and it would be available for riders of Waymo’s driverless service and serve a potential one million trips per day.

In the meantime, Tesla and GM have been aggressively pushing their autonomous technology forward over the last few years. And Tesla’s fleet of electric vehicles with the Autopilot system has been deployed more broadly. 

“My time leading Waymo has been the capstone of my career. Together, we’ve achieved remarkable firsts as we develop, deploy, and commercialize our fully autonomous Waymo Driver, and work to make our roads safer and mobility more accessible. The Waymo Driver has driven autonomously tens of millions of miles on public roads across 25 U.S. cities, and more than 20 billion miles in simulation; safely gets anyone in Phoenix with the Waymo One app to their destinations across thousands of miles each week; and is unlocking convenience and scale for our local delivery and freight partners through Waymo Via,” said Krafcik in an email to the company employees. “We launched Waymo as an independent Alphabet subsidiary, partnered with an amazing group of OEM, supplier, and service companies, and raised our first external investment round of $3.25 billion. As co-CEOs, Tekedra and Dmitri will continue to drive Waymo’s technical and business leadership in the rapidly advancing autonomous industry.”