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Google co-founder Larry Page’s flying car startup Crashed and Burned Due to Mismanagement
Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, is said to have shut down his flying car company because of internal problems and a lack of clear direction.
Business Insider says that ambitious flying car company Kittyhawk, which was started by Sebastian Thrun and backed by Larry Page, one of Google's co-founders, has officially shut down. The once-promising business's failure shows how important it is to have a good business plan and good management, even if the business has Silicon Valley-level goals and a lot of money behind it.
Thrun, who was also in charge of Google X lab and Udacity, started Kittyhawk with the goal of changing the way people get around. Early on, though, Thrun and Page had different ideas about where the company should go and how much it was worth, which set the stage for more problems.
"Sebastian wanted to make money," said a former co-worker. Larry didn't care. He had nothing to gain financially." The mood at work was clearly tense, which made it hard for people to figure out what was most important.
Kittyhawk first worked on the Flyer, which was a single-seat electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft that could be flown by people with only an hour of training. Even though the demo day at Lake Las Vegas in 2018 got good press, the Flyer had major limitations and safety problems.
"Despite these problems, the day at Lake Las Vegas seemed like a breakthrough," said a former employee. "But it was also the beginning of Flyer's end."
After the Flyer project was put on hold, Kittyhawk turned its attention to other projects, such as Heaviside, an autonomous flying car, and Feather, a research and development lab that looks into radical ideas. As rivals like Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation made progress, the eVTOL market started to heat up, and the company found it hard to find a clear market and use for its vehicles.
"The sudden switch from practical, iterative work on Heaviside to back-to-the-drawing-board ideas worried many employees, who saw it as a step in the wrong direction for a company that had already canceled several projects," a former employee said.
Because Larry Page's involvement and impact at Kittyhawk were becoming more random, employees often had to figure out what his "big questions" meant and change their focus.
A former worker said, "We'd work our asses off on something, and then Larry would say, 'Oh, it was just an idea.'"
As the closing date got closer, the mood in the company got worse. Even though Larry Page kept giving orders, the business couldn't make Page's dream of a commercially successful flying car that would completely change the industry a reality.
A former worker said, "Larry had a lot of good ideas, but he didn't seem to hire people who could make them happen." Another former worker said that the people Page hired were "brilliant and maybe disruptive," but none of them were able to meet Page's high expectations.
Read more at Business Insider here.