Former Cisco exec Padmasree Warrior has landed a CEO job at a Chinese car company taking on Tesla

Cisco’s former chief strategy officer Padmasree Warrior has landed a gig as the US CEO of Chinese electric car company NextEV, the company announced on Wednesday.

She will also hold the role of Chief Development Officer.

Warrior was one of former Cisco CEO John Chambers’ top lieutenants, but she left the company when Chuck Robbins took over as CEO earlier this year.

Since leaving Cisco, the rumour was she was on the hunt for a CEO position of her own, the first of her career. At one point, her name was suggested to run Twitter.

NextEV is working on smart, high-performance electric vehicles and is considered to be one of the top contenders to muscle into the territory of high-end EVs currently dominated by Tesla.

NextEV is eyeing California as one of its break-out markets. California wants to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

Warrior could be a good choice to lead the EV company’s US efforts. She is smart and articulate and very well-connected in the Valley after her years spent working on Cisco partnerships and M&A deals.

After leaving Cisco, she joined Microsoft’s board and also serves on the boards of Box and Gap. Plus she mentors a number of startups (although she isn’t known as a particularly active angel investor).

Headquartered in Shanghai, NextEV has an 85,000 square-foot research facility in San Jose, Calif., plus design centres in Munich, Beijing, Hong Kong and London.

It’s not clear how much money NextEv has raised. It was reportedly asking for $1 billion last September, Bloomberg reported, although Crunchbase says the figure it raised was half that, at $500 million (which is still a respectable sum). It is backed by some investors with deep pockets including Chinese internet giant Tencent; founder William Li; founder Xiang Li; founder Richard Liu, and VCs Hillhouse Capital; Sequoia Capital and JOY Capital.

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