Jesse Levinson was the quintessential CTO when he cofounded the autonomous vehicle startup Zoox in 2014 – a brilliant young researcher who’d helped developed the algorithms for Stanford’s $1-million winning entry in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.
Now, Levinson’s startup is part of Amazon and well on its way to launching its first robotaxi in cities like Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle. “Moving people around cities requires not just software that can make a car autonomous but the entire ecosystem,” he says. “It’s a new type of vehicle, the ability to own and operate them as a fleet and deploy them as a service so that customers don’t have to worry about any of the details. They just love the ride. It’s safe and they can count on it.”
Levinson’s vision, innovation and leadership earned him a spot on the Forbes 2022 CEO Next List. He spoke with me about pivot points in his career, what he learned from his parents and how he has evolved as a leader in building a company that’s trying to make personal transportation sustainable.
“CTO is an interesting title because it can mean a lot of things,” he says. For him, the focus is on product development and staying true to the mission of integrating software into an entire ecosystem around autonomous vehicles. Check out our interview for more.