What’s old is new again at San Diego-based TuSimple, where the company’s co-founder and former CEO is returning to the driver’s seat less than a year after leaving the company.
Reuters reported late last week that TuSimple’s former chief executive Cheng Lu will return to the company as CEO days after the autonomous-driving trucking company fired his predecessor, Xiaodi Hou, following an internal probe that revealed improper employee dealings with a Chinese firm.
The company also announced this past week that four independent directors have been removed — and that Mo Chen, TuSimple’s co-founder and major shareholder, has been appointed executive chairman of the board of directors.
The dramatic changes at the top follow an internal probe by the company’s board that concluded that some of its employees spent paid hours in 2021 working for Hydron, a Chinese startup focused on autonomous trucking mainly in China.
TuSimple said its investigation also found that confidential information had been shared with Hydron that was not brought to the attention of its audit and government security committees when the Chinese firm was being evaluated as a potential original equipment manufacturer.
TuSimple (NASDAQ: TSP), once one of San Diego’s largest companies by market cap, has seen it share price plunge more than 90% — from $42 to $2.75 — since late 2021. On Oct. 30, the day former CEO Xiaodi Hou was terminated, investors sent TSP shares down nearly 50%.
TuSimple was also rocked by controversy earlier in 2022 when one of its test vehicles suddenly veered across Interstate 10 near Tucson and crashed into a concrete barrier. No one was injured in that incident.
Late this last week, Lu vowed to stabilize the company. In a statement released Thursday (Nov. 10), he said: “I’m returning as TuSimple’s CEO with a sense of urgency to put our company back on track.”