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Tim Kentley-Klay was on a fast track in the self-driving car business.
He co-founded Zoox in 2014, and today the startup is valued at $3.2 billion. The company is going places, especially after raising another half-billion in July.
Not bad for a 43-year-old who had no prior experience in the car business or artificial intelligence. Of course, the board fired him.
No Prior Experience
The shock rumbled through Silicon Valley, where many neophyte entrepreneurs have made billions. It's often more about sales than substance.
Kentley-Klay, a former videographer, knew that. He told Bloomberg that he played "the oldest trick in the director's book" to get information and gain credibility. He did a "documentary" about self-driving cars.
"In my defense, I might have been making a documentary," he said. "The jury is still out on whether I am full of s***."
The board of directors, however, rendered its verdict. He's out as CEO.
Bravo or Bravado?
For all his success, bravado may have earned Kentley-Klay his ticket out of Zoox. The company is looking for a replacement, while co-founder Jesse Levinson continues as president.
Kentley-Klay posted on Twitter that he didn't see it coming. He said he was fired "without a warning, cause or right of reply."
"Today was Silicon Valley up to its worst tricks," he said. "Rather than working through the issues in an epic startup for the win, the board chose a path of fear, optimizing for a little money in hand at the expense of profound progress for the universe."