Some Google self-driving car experts were paid so much that they quit

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google’s parent company Alphabet lost some of its leading self-driving car experts because they were offered large payouts based on the valuation of the company’s self-driving car division, according to a new Bloomberg report.

The large payouts gave the employees little incentive to stay at the company, and some left to begin their own self-driving startups and initiatives. Essentially, the staffers were paid so much that they quit, the Bloomberg report says.

To be clear, it’s likely the large payouts weren’t the only factor that caused the employees to quit, but it appears to be a significant reason why.

A spokesperson for Waymo, the new self-driving company that spun out of Google parent company Alphabet, declined to comment on the report.

It’s unclear how much the payouts were, or who received them, but the self-driving car division has lost several key employees over the last year or so, including Chris Urmson, the former head of the division, and Bryan Salesky, who started a company called Argo AI that received a $1 billion investment from Ford last week.

Waymo was spun out of the Alphabet X subsidiary, which focuses on ambitious “moonshot” projects, in December. Waymo’s goal is to partner with third-party car manufacturers to add self-driving capabilities to vehicles. It already has a partnership with Chrysler and is said to be in talks with Honda. There’s also a possibility Waymo could offer a self-driving ride hailing service that competes with Uber.

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