- Business Insider named 10 transportation leaders to its list of 100 people transforming business.
- They include the CEO of a self-driving car startup, a prolific airline entrepreneur, and the logistics boss of the biggest retailer in the world.
- See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.
From self-driving and electric cars to scooters and low-cost air travel, the transportation space is in the midst of a massive upheaval.
We’ve identified 10 people in the industry rethinking how we get from A to B and laying the groundwork for the future of transportation.
Read on to see the full list of 10 people transforming transportation.
Profiles by Matt Debord, Mark Matousek, Benjamin Zhang, Graham Rapier, and Rachel Premack.
Aicha Evans, the CEO of Zoox, is developing a bold business model for self-driving cars
Aicha Evans joined the autonomous-driving startup Zoox earlier this year and is faced with the challenge of turning promise into reality.
Unlike nearly all its competitors, Zoox intends to create autonomous-driving software and assemble the vehicles it will use in an autonomous ride-hailing service it plans to launch in 2020. It’s a tall task for an experienced automaker or a major tech company, let alone a startup founded five years ago. But if Zoox can deliver on its ambitious goals, the rewards could be immense.
Before becoming Zoox’s CEO in February, Evans was the senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel, where she led projects that required the integration of hardware and software, one of the primary challenges Zoox will face as it brings its technology to market.
Evans is also the rare tech CEO who isn’t a white man. Born in Senegal, she was drawn to Zoox by its transformative potential.
“When you’re a young girl from Senegal and you end up sitting in my shoes, impact and meaning is very important,” she told Business Insider. “I wake up every morning and I’m in a hurry to get here.”
Pam Fletcher, the vice-president of global innovation at General Motors, is helping the 110-year-old automaker make electric cars
General Motors thinks the future is electric. Pam Fletcher’s charged with helping the US carmaker get there.
The GM veteran has nearly two decades’ experience with the company, and in October she was named vice president of global innovation, having previously overseen GM’s electric-vehicle programs.
Fletcher is close to CEO Mary Barra and was given the challenging task of developing and launching the all-electric long-range Chevy Bolt on a breakneck schedule.
The vehicle was designed to sell for under $US40,000 and deliver over 200 miles on a single charge. Debuted as a concept car at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and revealed in production form at CES in 2016, the Bolt went on sale in October 2016, beating the Tesla Model 3 to market by more than a year.
But there was a point when Fletcher and the GM electric-vehicle team weren’t sure the Bolt could hit its range target. They expressed their doubts to Barra. “I know you can do this,” Barra said. And Fletcher and her team could. The production Bolt shattered expectations, capable of nearly 240 miles.
Rachel Holt, the head of new mobility at Uber, is helping people live car-free
Backed by nearly $US20 billion in venture capital and with a giant IPO expected in the coming weeks, perhaps no company is better prepared to plot the future of transportation than Uber.
And Rachel Holt, head of new mobility at the company, is a key part of that effort, as the ride-hailing giant looks beyond traditional ride hailing.
The 36-year-old has been around since the company’s earliest days, in 2011, when she joined Uber to oversee its Washington, DC, launch.
Today, less than a year after its purchase of Jump Bikes, the company is expanding its transit footprint by adding public-transportation options inside the app, including schedules and mobile ticketing.
“Our vision has always been about helping people live car-free in cities,” Holt told Business Insider. “We see our ride-haling business as a core part of that, but we also recognise that there are certain times and places in which a car simply doesn’t make sense. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to live in their city car-free.”
John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, led the development of the first autonomous, commercial ride-hailing service in the US
John Krafcik joined Waymo, the autonomous-driving subsidiary of Alphabet, in 2015. Since then, Waymo has racked up millions of test miles, formed partnerships with Fiat-Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover, and launched the US’s first commercial autonomous ride-hailing service, Waymo One, in Arizona.
According to a report Waymo submitted to the California Department of Motor Vehicle, its safety drivers had to manually take over their test cars, because of safety concerns, about once every 11,000 miles in 2018 – the best rate of any company testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in California.
And while Waymo One is not yet open to the public and operates only within a radius of about 100 miles, it has positioned Waymo as the leader in the autonomous-driving industry.
Now it’s focused on widening the scope and scale of its operations, which includes expanding Waymo One, developing autonomous-driving technology for trucks and personal vehicles, and selling lidar sensors.
“Our viewpoint is, anything that has wheels and moves along the surface of the earth is something that we, in the future, could imagine being driven by Waymo,” Krafcik told us.
Shoaib Makani, cofounder and CEO of KeepTruckin, is changing the industry through the digitization of logging systems
The tech world has set its sights on trucking, with everyone from former Amazon execs to Uber itself rushing to disrupt the traditionally tech-averse $US800 million industry.
Shoaib Makani, who cofounded KeepTruckin in 2013, has already been at it for five years. He’s a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science and previously worked at Google, Khosla Ventures, and AdMob.
Makani’s devices are shining a light on data that helps truck drivers and business owners learn about where the greatest inefficiencies in their businesses are. KeepTruckin is a market leader in electronic-logging devices, which record how long drivers work. And while many other companies produce them, Makani says KeepTruckin is different in its ease of use and the findings that its data can quickly show.
“My personal conviction for starting the company was really around the belief that if you can model the past, it makes it possible to predict the future,” Makani told Business Insider. “And really, that’s what connectivity allows you to do. It generates the operational data that allows you to understand what took place and then leverage that to then say, ‘Hey, how can I improve?'”
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is trying to transform how people get around with electric cars and futuristic concepts like the Hyperloop
With his two main companies, Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk has achieved what no one thought could be done: Create a new American carmaker and make private rocket launches possible.
The 47-year-old CEO has stared down bankruptcy and tangled with an army of sceptics on Wall Street and government regulators. Despite the sling and arrows, Musk has minted an outrageous fortune: Tesla’s market capitalisation has topped $US50 billion at times, and SpaceX could be worth more, should it ever stage an IPO.
More important, Musk has shown naysayers that all-electric cars are appealing to consumers, and that going to Mars 50 years after men first walked on the moon isn’t out of reach.
Musk is a hero to many, a villain to a few. But there’s no question that the South African entrepreneur has proved that while it’s incredibly difficult to envision the future, and harder still to make it happen, the seemingly impossible doesn’t have to take forever.
David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue and Azul, is working to bring affordable air travel to underserved communities
David Neeleman is one of the most prolific and successful entrepreneurs the airline industry has seen in the modern era of flight. For his next act, he’s looking to bring affordable air travel to underserved communities in the US.
Neeleman has been the founder or a cofounder of four airlines: JetBlue, Azul Brazilian Airlines, WestJet, and Morris Air, which was sold to Southwest Airlines. He’s also the co-owner of Portugal’s national airline, TAP Air Portugal.
At JetBlue he helped bring affordable civility to America’s travellers by offering high-quality service and amenities at budget prices. Following his departure from JetBlue, in 2008, he returned to Brazil to start his next airline Azul (Portuguese for “blue”).
In Brazil, the military built airports in smaller cities, but its two major airlines at the time did not find them financially worthwhile to serve. That’s where Azul stepped in and launched service to dozens of cities that had previously been abandoned by other airlines.
These days, the charismatic businessman is developing his fifth major airline startup that’s set to fly in 2021. Codenamed Moxy, Neeleman wants to transform low-cost air travel for smaller cities in the US in very much the same way Azul did in Brazil.
“I would be very surprised if a single Moxy route had nonstop-service competition,” he told us. “There are literally hundreds and hundreds of city pairs that are crying out for nonstop flights.”
Bonny Simi, the president of JetBlue Technology Ventures, is investing in innovations that will transform the way people fly
From Olympian to journalist to airline captain to HR executive to venture capitalist, Bonny Simi seems to have done it all.
Although she’s had a lifelong love for flying, it didn’t become a career for her until 1990 when she left her job as a TV news sports reporter to join United Airlines as a pilot. By the end of her tenure at United, Simi had progressed to become a senior captain.
In 2003, she gave all that up and joined serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman’s new JetBlue Airways as a first officer.
“I decided I wanted to work for a startup – I loved flying and I didn’t want to leave aviation,” Simi told Business Insider of her decision to join JetBlue. “I wanted to work for an entrepreneur; I wanted to work for a company that had a caring culture, and a great brand.”
In 2016, JetBlue launched its venture-capital arm called JetBlue Technology Ventures. Simi, who was the airline’s head of human resources at the time, was asked to lead the team. These days, her time is spent working on the innovations that could transform the way we travel.
JetBlue Technology Venture’s invests in a variety of projects that range from incremental innovations like software designed to make airline customer service more efficient to grand leaps in technology like electric airliners.
Greg Smith, Walmart US executive vice president of supply chain, is using automation to help make one of the world’s biggest transportation companies more efficient
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. It’s also one of the largest transportation companies. And that’s where Greg Smith comes in.
Across the US, Walmart has about 200 fulfillment, consolidation, distribution, and import centres, more than 102,000 fulfillment employees, some 63,000 truck trailers, and a staff of 8,600 elite truck drivers who are the industry’s envy. Then, there’s a bevy of ocean-freight imports.
Smith, who is Walmart US’s executive vice president of supply chain, oversees that robust and ever-expanding supply chain. And he’s at the helm of keeping it more nimble and productive than ever.
“We find ourselves in a retail market that is transforming pretty significantly really from what used to be a brick-and-mortar business, where it was basically shop in store, to one that we would consider much more omnichannel now,” Smith said.
He told Business Insider that, when it comes to his role at Walmart, it’s all about increasing visibility in the supply chain, working more closely with suppliers, and implementing automation throughout.
“When we do business, our intention is to make sure that we can serve the customer’s needs, whether that’s in store or whether that’s pickup from store, whether that’s delivery from store, or whether that’s actually delivery from a fulfillment center.”
Toby Sun, cofounder and CEO of Lime, is rolling out new methods of transportation in cities worldwide
Most people put down their childhood scooter at some point and never picked it up again. That’s starting to change.
Over the past two years, electric bikes and scooters, rentable by the minute and paid by mobile app, have taken the world by storm. Inspired by similar dockless rentals in China, where cofounder Toby Sun studied before pursuing an MBA at the University of California at Berkeley, the entrepreneur set out to launch similar app-based rental fleets in the US.
Today, Lime’s bikes and scooters can be found in more than a dozen countries around the world and more than 100 cities in the US. Even in smaller, more car-centric places, from St. Louis to Texas, Lime’s scooters are helping people rethink about how they get around.
Most important, it’s helping replace trips that would have otherwise been in cars.
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