Denis Sverdlov, the billionaire founder of British electric vehicle startup Arrival, is stepping down as chief executive and will be replaced by the man who sold Marvel Entertainment to Walt Disney.
Russian-born Sverdlov will become chairman of Arrival, which was backed by Hyundai and was once valued at $15 billion.
Day-to-day operations of the British start-up will be entrusted to Peter Cuneo, who ran Marvel when Disney acquired it for $4 billion in 2009. Cuneo has been the chairman of Arrival since March last year.
Cuneo ran the Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or Spac, which merged with Arrival earlier last year and took the start-up public in the New York Stock Exchange. Arrival shares have since plummeted more than 95 percent.
Arrival also said Thursday that Avinash Rugoobur, its president and head of strategy, is stepping down. The company said Rugoobur, a former General Motors director who was Arrival’s first high-profile auto industry employee in 2019, had resigned for “personal reasons” but would remain on the board.
The restructuring comes after Arrival announced job cuts earlier this year and abandoned plans to start building vans and buses in the UK. Last month, the group warned it didn’t have enough cash to remain a “going concern” and said it needed fresh funding to launch its US van, the company’s only product.
In early November, the Financial Times reported that the project has been delayed while the company has been plagued by issues including low employee morale, a vehicle fire and internal revelations about a previously undisclosed aircraft project codenamed “Jet.”
Sverdlov said Thursday that he is “more committed than ever to ensuring Arrival’s success and I will continue to act in the best interests of the company, shareholders, customers, partners and employees”.
Cueno, who is taking on the lead role on an interim basis, said he intends to “bring the full depth of my experience to this operational role and ensure the company achieves its next strategic goals.”
Rexford Tibbens, the former Lyft operations director who joined Arrival’s board after the IPO, will assume responsibility for strategy and operations.