TuSimple co-founder blames exit on CEO pay and autonomy downgrade

TuSimple co-founder Xiaodi Hou has refuted allegations from senior management that he was attempting to poach workers for his new firm. In a LinkedIn submit, Hou said that he resigned from TuSimple’s board final week resulting from disagreements about CEO Cheng Lu’s compensation package deal, in addition to the corporate’s shift from Degree 4 autonomy to Degree 2 autonomy.

“I imagine that the so-called investigation was retaliation instigated by TuSimple’s Chairman and CEO in response to my disagreements over a number of selections,” wrote Hou in a LinkedIn post.

Yesterday, TechCrunch reported that Hou resigned amid an inside investigation that sought to confirm whether or not he had approached TuSimple workers about becoming a member of his new enterprise. TuSimple fired Hou final 12 months from his CEO, president and CTO posts after the board discovered that TuSimple had transferred confidential data to Hydron. The hydrogen-powered trucking startup is led by TuSimple co-founder and majority stakeholder Mo Chen and is backed by Chinese language buyers.

Hou instructed TechCrunch that he has not begun one other enterprise, implying that it’s illogical to accuse him of poaching workers.

“I’m frequently approached by present TuSimple workers who’re disenchanted with the present management and route of the corporate,” wrote Hou in an announcement. “They arrive to me as a result of we had been a household, and we nonetheless are. Over the previous few months, many workers reached out to me for my recommendation about their careers and the modifications on the firm. Many requested about my very own plans. In each engagement, I stayed true to my obligations and duties as a director.”

Hou went on to accuse TuSimple’s administration of cornering, harassing and threatening sure workers in the midst of their investigations.

Hou mentioned his resignation was fueled partly by his rejection of present CEO Cheng Lu’s “profitable” compensation package deal, which was awarded to the manager inside days of layoffs that wiped 25% of the corporate’s workforce.

Based on a filing, Lu will get an annual base wage of $450,000, a goal annual bonus of round $400,000 and a month-to-month housing allowance of $9,000. If Lu is fired with out trigger, or if there’s a change in command of the corporate (like if the corporate is offered), Lu will get $15 million.

Lu’s compensation and severance package deal was agreed upon on December 14, 2022, in line with filings. Lu, Hou and Chen had been the one remaining board members on the time after that they had beforehand fired everybody else. A supply conversant in the matter asserted that Lu and Chen modified the corporate’s governance in a approach that might permit them to bypass Hou’s vote towards Lu’s compensation package deal. The corporate’s new board members, Wendy Hayes and Michael Mosier, joined the board the following day. We’ve reached out to TuSimple for touch upon the supply’s declare.

Hou additionally mentioned he was brazenly essential of TuSimple’s “resolution to shift the main focus from stage 4 autonomous driving to stage 2 assisted driving.”

Degree 4 autonomy means the system can drive itself with out requiring a human to takeover inside a set of particular circumstances — like a geofenced space. Degree 2, or superior driver help programs (ADAS), can carry out some automated duties like lane help, cruise management or emergency braking, however they require the human driver to take care of many of the management over the automobile.

TuSimple has not publicly introduced any intention to shift from Degree 4 to Degree 2, however doing so would fully change the corporate’s enterprise mannequin.

In December, TuSimple’s take care of Navistar to collectively develop and produce purpose-built autonomous semi vans by 2024 fell by, leaving TuSimple and not using a clear route for commercialization.

Lu denied to TechCrunch that TuSimple is planning to shift its focus away from L4. He mentioned the corporate will quickly announce its progress on its autonomous area controller, which has the flexibility to help L2 options. Lu additionally pointed to TuSimple’s Could 2022 analyst day presentation which outlined the corporate’s aim to supply L2+ ADAS in partnership with Nvidia. He reiterated that TuSimple continues to be very a lot specializing in L4.