After five-and-a-half years of leading Alphabet’s fully autonomous driving unit, Waymo CEO John Krafcik plans to hand over the job of running the company to two of his colleagues. On Friday, Krafcik said he’s leaving Waymo in the hands of Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov. The two executives previously served as the company’s COO and CTO, respectively. They’ve also been at Waymo for several years, with Dolgov’s tenure going back to 2009 when the unit was still under the Google umbrella. The move is also notable in that it puts a woman of color at the head of one of the world’s leading autonomous vehicle technology companies.
Krafcik says he’ll continue to serve as an advisor to Waymo, but it also seems like he wants to take a break from the tech world. “To start, I’m looking forward to a refresh period, reconnecting with old friends and family, and discovering new parts of the world,” he said in the blog post announcing his departure. Krafcik went on to describe his time at Waymo as the “capstone” of his career.
As CNBC notes, one of the defining aspects of Krafcik’s time at Waymo was the measured approach he took to expansion. It was only recently the company opened up its Waymo One service to the Phoenix public and started testing vehicles in San Francisco. When he did interviews with the media, Krafcik frequently stressed the importance of making autonomous vehicles as safe as possible. “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,” he told the network shortly after an autonomous vehicle Uber was testing in Arizona struck and killed a pedestrian in 2018.
In inheriting Waymo, Mawakana and Dolgov look to continue the work Krafcik started and, by the sounds, potentially accelerate it as well. “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,” the two said in a joint statement. “We’re energized by the road and opportunity ahead of us.”