TuSimple’s co-founder blames the exit on CEO pay and reduced autonomy

TuSimple co-founder Xiaodi Hu denied the senior leadership’s allegations that He was trying to poach the staff to his new company. In a post on LinkedIn, Hou He said He resigned from TuSimple’s board of directors last week over disagreements over CEO Cheng Lu’s compensation package, as well as the company’s transition from Level 4 autonomy to Level 2 autonomy.

He wrote in a letter Linkedin post.

yesterday, Techcrunch It reported that Hu resigned amid an internal investigation that sought to verify whether he contacted TuSimple employees about joining his new venture. TuSimple Disqualified Hou resigned last year as CEO, president and chief technology officer after the board learned TuSimple had passed classified information to Hydron. The hydrogen trucking company is led by TuSimple co-founder and majority stakeholder Mo Chen and backed by Chinese investors.

Ho told TechCrunch he hasn’t started another project, which means it doesn’t make sense to accuse him of employee poaching.

“I am regularly contacted by existing TuSimple employees who are disappointed with the company’s current leadership and direction,” Hu wrote in a statement. “They come to me because we were family, and we still are. Over the past few months, several employees have reached out to me for advice about their careers and changes in the company. Many have asked about my own plans. In every engagement, I have stayed true to my responsibilities and duties as a manager.”

Hu went on to accuse TuSimple management of circumventing, harassing and intimidating some employees during their investigations.

Hu said his resignation was prompted in part by his rejection of current CEO Cheng Le’s “lucrative” compensation package, which was awarded to the executive within days of Layoffs eliminated 25% of the company’s workforce.

according to filingLuo gets an annual base salary of $450,000, a target annual bonus of about $400,000 and a monthly housing allowance of $9,000. If Lu is fired without cause, or if there is a change in control of the company (such as a sale of the company), Lu gets $15 million.

A compensation package and Lou’s severance were agreed on December 14, 2022, according to filings. Lu, Hu, and Chen were the only remaining board members at that time, having previously fired everyone else. A source familiar with the matter confirmed that Lu and Chen changed the company’s governance in a way that would allow them to circumvent Hu’s vote against Lu’s compensation package. The company’s new board members, Wendy Hayes and Michael Mosier, joined the board the next day. We’ve reached out to TuSimple for comment on the source claim.

He, too, said he was publicly critical of TuSimple’s decision to “shift the focus from Level 4 autonomous driving to Level 2 assisted driving.”

Level 4 autonomy means that the system can drive itself without requiring a human to take over a specific set of circumstances – such as a geo-fenced area. Level 2, or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), can perform some automated tasks such as lane assist, cruise control or emergency braking, but require the human driver to maintain most control of the vehicle.

TuSimple has not publicly stated any intention to move from Level 4 to Level 2, but doing so would completely change the company’s business model.

in December, TuSimple deal with Navistar To jointly develop and produce purpose-built semi-autonomous trucks by 2024, leaving TuSimple with no clear marketing direction.

Lu denied to TechCrunch that TuSimple plans to shift its focus away from L4. He said the company will soon announce its progress on an independent domain controller, which has the ability to support L2 solutions. Lu also referred to TuSimple’s Analyst Day presentation in May 2022 that outlined the company’s goal to produce L2+ ADAS in partnership with Nvidia. He reiterated that TuSimple is still very focused on L4.

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