Briefing: Self-driving startup Roadstar.ai fires co-founder for corruption

1 min read

Roadstar.ai宣布罢免联合创始人兼首席科学家周光 – NetEase

What happened: Earlier this week, Silicon Valley and Shenzhen-based self-driving startup Roadstar.ai announced via WeChat that it had cut all ties with co-founder Zhou Guang. Zhou, who also held the role of chief scientist, reportedly hid code and accepted kickbacks from a classmate during the self-driving company’s $128 million Series A last May. A third party also discovered that Zhou deliberately gave falsified data in a government regulatory report.

Why it’s important: Zhou, along with the company’s other two co-founders, had previously worked on AV technologies for companies from Baidu to Tesla. That expertise made Roadstar.ai look promising to Chinese investors like Wu Capital and Shenzhen Capital Group, which poured in money barely a year after the company was founded. The news of Zhou’s misdemeanors may shake that confidence; certainly, according to Roadstar.ai’s announcement, his wrongdoing has already damaged the company’s reputation. In addition to dealing with the loss of a key executive, the startup may have to tread carefully in order to keep receiving support to develop its autonomous driving technologies.