Uber Loses Another Executive as Self-driving Program Head Quits

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Despite having put in as much testing time as most of the major players, experts have remained skeptical of Uber’s autonomous driving program. This isn’t because it lacks the necessary technology or hardware, but because it lacks a stable corporate environment. There have been no shortage of ugly headlines surrounding the company this year, and it’s beginning to hemorrhage essential staff members. This week, Uber lost its vice president of global vehicle programs, Sherif Marakby, and sustained another blow to its self-driving aspirations and pride.

While the ride-haling service has declined to elaborate on the reasons for Marakby’s exit, he had only been with the company since last April. After twenty-five years with Ford, Uber poached him specifically for his expertise in autonomous development and electronic safety systems.

This loss follows the departure of Uber’s president, vice president of product and growth, senior director of engineering, its head of communications, head of AI labs, and numerous members of its self-driving programs — all within the last few months.

“Self-driving is one of the most interesting challenges I’ve worked on in my career, and I’m grateful to have contributed to what will soon be a safer future for everyone,” Marakby said in a statement announcing his departure.

Uber didn’t give any additional information, though it told Automotive News that Marakby’s choice had nothing to do with the company’s ongoing lawsuit with Waymo. Of course, it isn’t as if that’s the only issue the company is facing. In addition to investigations into the alleged sexual misconduct of its employees, Uber has also faced negative publicity for how its team has handled its autonomous testing, the implementation of a tool designed to subvert government investigations, software that covertly tracks when its drivers use the Lyft app, and CEO Travis Kalanick’s exceptionally poor behavior.

The lawsuit drama, which returns to the courtroom next month, just happens to be the biggest elephant in a room that’s already full of them — and the one everyone seems most ready to talk about.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Phila_DLJ Phila_DLJ on Apr 18, 2017

    New stock photo needed. That is not what the app looks like, nor is that phone (the 5S) on sale anymore.

  • Tylanner Tylanner on Apr 18, 2017

    The utility of ride sharing is obvious, the apps are awesome and the prospect of market domination is tempting, but in the end, competition will keep the revenue ceiling low and the mundanity of running a taxi company doesn't seem like a great use of someones technical talent. The tech exodus tells me that Uber self-driving tech is way behind the curve....

  • Scott Le Mans - Steve McQueen. It's an oldy and cult only but those who saw it know who's cars were featured.
  • Sobhuza Trooper Gas powered generators? The Wretched Past. UGH!!!! Battery powered generators? The Glorious FUTURE. YEA!!!!! Let California Californicate the World!!!!
  • Yuda Power grid is already failing with the few chargers there are This is just gonna make things worse for normal people
  • Yuda EVs in general are a scam LMAO I'm not surprised
  • Lou_BC "In 2007, 85% of Americans drove themselves to work and 6% rode with someone else. But by 2018, while the 6% of Americans who carpool has remained constant, there has been a decrease in the percentage of those who drive themselves to work, edging down to 77%." .................. If people can't recharge at home, it would be logical to set up charging infrastructure at workplace parking lots. That would cover 77% of the population. An 8 hour workday should be adequate to keep an EV charged.
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