Self-driving car startup Zoox names new chief to replace ousted Aussie co-founder


New Zoox chief executive Aicha Evans. Source: Supplied.

Self-driving car startup Zoox has named former Intel executive Aicha Evans as its new chief executive, five months after Aussie co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay was unceremoniously sacked from the position.

Joining the secretive Silicon Valley startup after 12 years at tech giant Intel, most recently as chief strategy officer, Evans is charged with leading Zoox into its next phase of growth, a statement said.

“Zoox has set itself apart from entrenched players as the only company creating a solution purpose-built to meet the needs of a fully autonomous future,” Evans said in the statement.

The new chief will also be working to “unlock more technical and commercial milestones”, she said.

Zoox was founded in 2012 by Kentley-Klay and American Jesse Levinson, but operated in stealth mode until July 2018, when it announced its $675 million in its Series B round, which valued the startup at about $4.3 billion.

“To raise that amount of capital in a company that is pre-revenue, pre-product, pre-customer is pretty unprecedented,” Kentley-Klay told Forbes at the time.

In total, the startup has raised about $1 billion in funding, all without having a product on the market.

The Series B round was backed by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, who also joined the board. Aussie venture capital fund Blackbird Ventures also contributed, marking its largest single investment to date.

However, in August, Kentley Klay confirmed reports he had been ousted by the Zoox board, claiming he was fired “without a warning, cause or right of reply”.

In a tweet, the co-founder called the debacle “Silicon Valley up to its worst tricks” and took aim at the culture in the global startup capital, saying it “sells the story that it backs founders to create real change”.

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