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The executive who steered the transforma­tion of Google’s self-driving car project into a separate company worth billions of dollars is stepping down after more than five years on the job.

John Krafcik announced his departure as CEO of Waymo, a company spun out from Google, in a blog post that cited his desire to enjoy life as the world emerges from the pandemic.

“I’m looking forward to a refresh period, reconnecti­ng with old friends and family, and discoverin­g new parts of the world,”

Krafcik, 59, wrote.

Two of Krafcik’s top lieutenant­s will replace him as co-ceos. Dmitri Dolgov, who has been working on self-driving cars since Waymo began within Google in 2009, will focus on the technology for the autonomous vehicles. Tekedra Mawakana, a lawyer who had been Waymo’s chief operating officer, will handle the business side of the operation.

Krafcik will remain an adviser to Waymo, a company that establishe­d itself as the clear leader in autonomous driving since Google hired him in 2015. Not long after that, Google’s self-driving division morphed into Waymo, a company owned by Alphabet, which is also Google’s parent.

Under Krafcik’s leadership, Waymo forged partnershi­ps with several major automakers and launched the first ride-hailing service to pick up passengers without a driver or anyone else in the vehicles. That service, called Waymo One, only operates in the Phoenix metropolit­an area, but Waymo plans to expand into other markets as the company continues to refine a technology that is expected to transform the auto industry.

Waymo’s inroads have left it with an estimated market value of about $30 billion, based on analyst estimates made last year after the company raised $2.25 billion in its first round of investment­s from outside Alphabet. Waymo subsequent­ly received $1 billion from outside investors to close that round of financing. But last year’s estimated $30 billion valuation was down dramatical­ly from 2018 when a Morgan Stanley research report estimated Waymo was worth about $175 billion.

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Image: Stephen Mccarthy
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