“This industry has never been a question of money, the biggest problem is ‘people and ’. “After experiencing the demise of a star unmanned car company, Roadstar Angel investors sighed.
In terms of solar terms, if 2016 is China's self-driving "Lichun", then 2019 is more like "stunning" &mquo; — thunder burst.
Before 2019, less than 4 months ago, the auto-driving star startups were once in bankruptcy and liquidation, the founders separated, and played with the former founders. The situation of the lawsuit.
At 8:15 pm on April 3, an online crisis public relations meeting was held in secret.Participants included Roadstar's former CTO Zhou Guang, Zhou Guang's public relations staff, Roadstar Angel Wheel and A-round investors.
“ Recently, the outside public opinion has been on the rise, and investors have decided to clarify some things. ” Some participants told the Finance (ID: rancaijing).
This attendee’s "paradox" refers to the media’s past drones since March 30th, Roadstar—— Star Ventures & mdash;— reports of bankruptcy liquidation. The article traces back to the entanglement between the three founders and VP, Ogawa, and once again brought Roadstar to the forefront, triggering the crisis public relations meeting mentioned at the beginning.
3 months ago,Former CEO of Roadstar, Yan Xianqiao and the current CEO, measured the CTO Zhou Guang’s announcement when the company’s public number was released, and put the discord between the three co-founders on the table. Since then, he has shown and measured, Zhou Guang and the angel behind him. And the A-round investors, the two parties have been caught in the entanglement for several months and have not ended yet, with a series of private codes, data fraud, receiving kickbacks, buying P2P wealth management products privately, reselling fixed assets, and leaving the core team. dispute.
The result of this online public relations conference is that Zhou Guang himself still does not come directly, and the investor representatives face the media.
Liu Yibo who experienced this battle has some emotions. Just three months ago, Roadstar was one of the most eye-catching stars in the unmanned field. In May 2018, it announced the completion of the $128 million Series A round of financing (about 812 million yuan), setting the domestic driverless field. The highest single round of financing. Just the day before Yan Xianqiao and measuring the announcement of the recall,Liu Yibo also forwarded the news that Zhou Guang is leading the team to participate in the latest high-precision 3D real-time map technology at Tokyo Motor Show and Road Show in Japan.
This is not the first time a driverless startup has been guilty. In the past three years, tens of billions of dollars of hot money has poured into the autonomous driving industry. According to public data, in 2018, the total investment and financing of autonomous driving at home and abroad exceeded US$7 billion, of which more than US$1.15 billion.
It’s not difficult to understand the enthusiasm of investors for autonomous driving technology: With the online traffic bonus, AI has become the biggest outlet since 2016, and automatically Driving as the most perceptible application of AI technology is comparable to the “next-generation smartphone system”.
But the first person who plunges into the sea may be a bubble. Guilt, disputes, outs, litigation, core team loss … …The story that Roadstar experienced was also staged in other auto-driving star companies. It was the same as Roadstar's domestic passenger car direction, the unmanned Top 3 Wenyuan Zhixing (formerly known as “Jingchi”) and Xiaoma Zhixing were not spared.
The original Jingchi start-up team has differentiated three auto-driving companies, Wenyuan Zhixing, Muyue Technology, and Zhongzhixing. Wenyuan Zhizhi, who has gradually passed through the painful period, still In China and the United States, the former founder and first CEO Wang Jin and the new company Zhongzhixing, who had been out more than a year ago, filed a number of lawsuits; Xiaoma Zhixing also reported that the two founders would be separated due to different ideas. One of them is looking for buyers to sell old stocks.
Interestingly, there are investors in the field of autonomous driving who broke the news of fuel economy. When Wenyuan knows what to do, Roadstar has cut off Wenyuan Zhixing. Pen investment, this has a single round of financing of $ 128 million "myth", now, the wind and water, the investor revealed thatThe intentional investors of Roadstar have already switched to the B round of Wenyuan Zhixing. This news has not been confirmed by the company.
One of our questions is: Unmanned driving is far from commercialization, and why do autopilot startups fall into the fight? The Finance and Economy interviewed more than ten upstream and downstream industry chains, trying to find out the answer through the rise of China's unmanned driving.
On April 17, it was supposed to be the day when Wenyuan Zhixing and Wang Jin and Zhongzhixing’s reputation dispute disputes were held in the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, but because of the jurisdictional objection of Wang Jin, a US citizen, the court The time is fixed.
Discussing today's domestic auto-driving pattern, can not avoid the key figure of Wang Jin.Today, most of the domestic autopilot entrepreneurs are from his majesty, "China's first case of automatic driving", the follow-up of Roadstar's liquidation, and the division of Xiaoma Zhixing are also related.
In early 2010, Google adjusted its China strategy. At the time, Wang Jin, the vice president of Google China Academy of Engineering, became the first Google China executive to join Baidu. Baidu Senior Vice President.
In the five years from April 2010 to April 2015, Wang Jin was responsible for the technology and product business of Baidu’s commercial realization, “Fengshan”, through technology By means, Baidu’s revenue has increased by a factor of 10 in five years.
Before being attacked by Baidu, "Baidu Encyclopedia" has such an introduction to Wang Jin:
“Wang Jin founded Baidu Mobile Cloud Division, Baidu Big Data Department, Baidu Infrastructure (Cloud Computing) Department, Baidu US R&D Center, Baidu Shenzhen R&D Center, and co-founded based on Baidu Deep Learning Lab (IDL). Baidu Research Institute, focusing on artificial intelligence development ……”
Wang Jin built the Baidu Unmanned Driving Division and shouted in 2015 “Three years of commercial use, five years of mass production, ten years of changing travel modes”, the amazing slogan, became the first person in China to draw the production timeline, and successfully let Baidu’s unmanned car open in 2015. Beijing Five Rings. Baidu’s achievements in promoting national awareness of autonomous driving are commendable, and it is also necessary to acknowledge Wang Jin’s credit.
In the period of Baidu, Wang Jin recruited James Peng, the first person of Baidu Meiyan, called Programming Peng, Baidu The youngest T10 engineer Lou Tiancheng,Professor of Life at the University of Missouri, former chief of Baidu unmanned vehicle Han Xu, former senior director of drone drone Yang Qingxiong, Baidu T9, top algorithm engineer Chen Shizhen, Baidu unmanned vehicle including Wang Jin himself “four major King Kong” Ni Kai, Yu Kai, Wu Enda; Yan Xian Qiao, measurement, Zhou Guang also from Baidu Meiyan team.
These people later left, becoming the field of unmanned vehicle entrepreneurship, "Baidu Department", built a Chinese driverless entrepreneurial map: Peng Jun and Lou Tiancheng founded Xiaoma Zhixing in December 2016; Yan Xianqiao, Gauge, Zhou Guang founded Roadstar in February 2017; Wang Jin joined Han Xu, Yang Qingxiong, and Chen Shizhen to establish Jingchi in the United States in April 2017; Yu Kai, Ni Kai, Wu Enda Etc. also founded the horizon, HoloMatic, Drive.ai.
On February 22, 2017, just as Jingchi was in the limelight, Baidu infringed on trade secrets.The Jingchi Technology, which Wang Jin and Wang Jin operated, appealed to the Beijing Intellectual Property Court and became the first case of China's automatic driving. Baidu’s litigation reasons include: Wang Jin’s violation of the competition restrictions, the recruitment of Baidu employees, the registration of Baidu’s direct competition with the new company during the period of employment, and the return of non-returned computers with important trade secrets.
The lawsuit lasted for one year, and the case has not yet been clear, but Jingqi’s financing rhythm and future development are obviously disrupted. Investors in the field of automatic driving told the Finance and Economics that most shareholders decided to save themselves. In February 2018, the Jingchi board of directors finally fired Wang Jin and declared that he was in need of rest.
At the same time, Jingchi announced its participation in Baidu's Apollo platform. Baidu withdrew its lawsuit against Jingchi, and the lawsuit against Wang Jin continued. Jingchi original CTO Han Xu took over as CEO.
Out , litigation, playing "black gun"
The former "automatic driving first person" became a "automatic driving out" One person
Wang Jin is out, Jingchi management has changed blood.
According to insiders, after the introduction of the fuel economy, when Wang Jin’s exit was a foregone conclusion, Pan Sining and Han Xu, who were then the legal person of Jingchi Technology, had a torn tears about the CEO successor.
Wang Jin was in charge of Fengchao's business in Baidu, Pan Sining was the director of Fengchao Business Search Products. After Wang Jin became the general manager of Baidu's Auto Driving Division, Pan Sining became the product director of the department and assistant to Wang Jin. In March 2017, Wang Jin left Baidu, and Pan Sining immediately joined Jingchi Technology, and has been responsible for domestic related operations.
After the loss of the position of the competition CEO, Pan Sining gradually faded out of Jingchi. On February 14, Jingchi dismissed him. In August 2018, during the A-round financing of Jingchi, Pan Sining suddenly attacked. As the legal person of Jingchi Technology, she infringed the right to name the company, and will be Guangzhou Jingchi Technology Co., Ltd. (the legal representative is Han Xu) and Beijing Jingyi Information Technology Co., Ltd. (the original legal representative is Pan Sining, now Lu Qing ), CEO Han Xu, CTO Lu Qing v. to the Huangpu District People's Court of Guangzhou.
The time to file a lawsuit is also very meaningful. Insiders close to Jingchi revealed to the Finance News,On August 23, Pan Sining filed a lawsuit, which coincided with the late stage of Jingchi A round. On September 14th, Jingchi began to communicate the closing of the A round of financing. At the same time, a number of scientific and technological media have begun to report that Jingchi’s billions of funds have been frozen by banks and Pan Sining has regained the status of legal person. “Nine-point meeting, the internal said a bit (A round of closing things), the other party began to engage in this activity at 10:50. & rdquo;
In May 2018, Jingchi Technology completed a $52 million Pre-A round of investment from NVIDIA and Innovation Works. At that time, Jingchi Technology said that the A round of financing is about to be completed, and the financing amount is expected to exceed that of all domestic autopilot companies. Until 5 months later, Jingchi Technology's A round of financing has not been announced, but instead waited for Roadstar to refresh the autopilot single-round financing record.
On October 30th, Jingchi, who was in the storm, finally announced the A round of financing led by the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance strategy.In order to reduce the impact of the corporate name infringement case, the name was changed to “Wenyuan Zhixing”.
A series of changes have not seen Wang Jin, but there seems to be a shadow of Wang Jin.
In June 2018, a family named "Zhongzhixing" was established in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, and its vice president of hardware, Huang Kun, was previously a US company of Wenyuan Zhixing. The former hardware leader.
Public information shows that Zhongzhixing Technology Co., Ltd. is an unmanned-based intelligent travel company driven by artificial intelligence technology, and will launch new ones in the future. A generation of unmanned shared travel services.
In the company description of Zhongzhixing, there is such a sentence: "The Chinese unmanned temple expert, the commercial leader led the team",The vagueness seems to point to the person who first proposed the "three-year commercial, five-year mass production" slogan.
The more direct evidence is that Zhongzhixing once wanted to copy the Roadstar, and Roadstar investors took the offer of Zhongzhixing to go to the interview. The negotiation party is Wang Jin. . “The purpose of his is very simple, that is, low-cost bargain-hunting, and Zhou Guang’s technical team. & rdquo; But because the investor did not meet expectations, and found that the company itself had a lot of problems in the process of completing the adjustment, the deal ultimately failed. “Zhongzhixing, as a foreign-funded company, is financing domestically and it is the money of the renminbi. This is very strange. ”According to legal procedures, the RMB must be invested in a foreign company, and it is necessary to apply for ODI. The process is long and difficult to pass. Moreover, Roadstar needs money in dollars.
The lawsuit of Zhongzhixing in China and the United States may also be one of the reasons for the abortion of this transaction.
On November 19, 2018, Wang Jin was arrested by the former owner for the second time: Wen Yuanzhizhi in the United States to Zhongzhixing, Wang Jin and Huang Kun The lawsuit was filed and the three were believed to have stolen the business secrets of Wenyuan Zhixing. In the litigation documents, Wenyuan Zhixing believed that Huang Kun had stolen a large number of trade secrets including source code before leaving the company, and used it to develop a driverless car and finally released it.
On March 22nd, the US Federal Court of Northern California District Court issued a violation of Wen Zhizhi, the vice president of Zhongzhi and its hardware (original < Chi ”) The temporary ban on trade secrets, Zhongzhixing and Huang Kun will not continue to use Wenyuan Zhixing’s trade secrets, requesting the return of all the materials containing Wenyuan Zhixing’s trade secrets and handing over their software source code, and pointing out that other businesses are Secret personnel. Wang Jin was not listed as an executor because there was no information showing that Wang Jin had an equity or employee relationship with Zhongzhi.
In this lawsuit,Wenyuan Zhizhi also accused Wang Jin of leaving the company to investors after he left the company, violating the non-derogation agreement signed by Wang Jin with the company and causing the company to lose more than $75 million in expected investment in Series A financing.
According to the report of the Beijing News and the screenshot of the litigation documents published, Wenyuan Zhixing complained that Wang Jin was interested in the investment of the company during the A round of financing. Capital walks the following news: 1. Wenyuan Zhixing's driving technology is not successful; 2. Wenyuan Zhixing's production video demonstrates its automatic driving technology, but the video is “falsified”; 3. Wenyuan Zhixing's automatic driving The car was involved in a traffic accident, Wenyuan Zhixing tried to “cover up” this matter; 4. Some core engineers of Wenyuan Zhixing are preparing to leave the company; 5. Wenyuan Zhixing intends to dilute Wang Jin’s stock. After Wang Jin and Hanfu Capital contacted, the latter’s investment in Wenyuan Zhizhi was reduced from US$20 million to US$4.5 million. During that time, five investors who had signed an investment agreement (excluding Shangtang Technology) withdrew a total of $64 million in potential investments.
In response to the allegations of Wenyuan Zhixing, on April 10, Zhongzhixing announced a counterclaim in China, requesting relevant source code comparisons to prove that Zhongzhi did not There is a violation of the trade secrets of Wenyuan Zhixing.
Another star startup, Xiaoma Zhixing, is not too peaceful. The autopilot R&D personnel close to Xiaoma Zhixing revealed to the Finance News that the two founders Peng Jun and Lou Tiancheng had differences on the technical route. The internal technical team was divided into several groups: “The technical team has the leader (Lian Tiancheng) People, James (Peng Jun) airborne people, and eating melons. "The person who airs in his mouth" refers to Zhang Yimeng, former technical director and chief engineer of Google Unmanned Waymo.
“ The situation of the pony is that the leader is unilaterally hanged by James. ”The aforementioned developers believe thatSince Xiao Ma Zhixing's non-technical team is managed by James, it is also “no trouble”.
Frequently fighting, for three reasons
guilty, stealing , litigation, exit … … everything the Chinese autopilot company is experiencing, the United States has also staged in advance.
The long-established star startup company, why is it rolling?
“This industry has never been a question of money, the biggest problem is ‘people and ’. “After experiencing the demise of a star unmanned car company, Roadstar Angel investors sighed.
The same is a technical genius,The mistrust between the three co-founders of Roadstar was revealed at the beginning of the venture.
According to insiders, at the beginning of the cooperative venture, the three people set up their own technical teams, and the teams also guarded each other. According to the Titanium media report, the three founders had contacted Shunwei Capital and hoped to obtain Lei Jun’s investment. At that time (the founding team) proposed the equity distribution is an absolute average (that is, the three are allocated according to 1:1:1), and the Supreme side believes that “three people are immature” and refused to provide financing.
It is reported that in order to promote financing, the three people barely passed the proposal of CEO Yan Xianqiao holding more shares. The CTO measurement and the chief scientist Zhou Guang’s shares remain. Consistent. After the angel round and the A round of financing, Yan Xianqiao held 16.8% of the shares, and the measurement and Zhou Guang held 10.2% respectively. The gap did not open, that is, none of the three founders had an absolute controlling share.
“In the long run, a single core is the most stable. ” In the eyes of the above investors, regardless of technology, the current “most healthy” company in the field of unmanned vehicles in China should be a fly-by, because the founder He Xiaofei has absolute dominance.
Wang Jun, an autopilot entrepreneur who has experienced a series of accidents, also recognizes that "people are the key", he divides people's problems into three detailed ones. Aspects:
Automatic driving technology has high thresholds, few talents, and lacks its core skills and talents. “Autopilot is a systematic project, and there is a lot of synergy between them. There are not many people who really know end to end. Therefore, such people will be more sought-after and have high liquidity. When such a person moves, the brothers he brings will move along with it, and it looks like a separation. ”
There are many young people, lacking real management experience and social experience,I don't know how to deal with the market, capital appeals and temptations. I don't know how to make good use of government resources and policies to develop my own business.
There is a lack of common vision or different values when starting a business. Some people are eager to seek success, too short-sighted, do not know how to deal with problems and difficulties, lack of morality An outstanding leader who has both ability.
In addition to the intention to take over Roadstar, according to industry sources, Wang Jin has also been exposed to Xiao Ma Zhixing's Lou Tiancheng. The reason why these technical teams are frequently contacted is precisely because of the first reason listed by Wang Jun.
Unmanned truck entrepreneur Chen Mo has made a judgment that if a team of more than 50 people has not been formed by the end of 2018, no matter from talent or technology accumulation In fact, it is basically difficult to compete with the first echelon. “The window of unmanned entrepreneurship is about to close soon. & rdquo; At present, the domestic auto-driving related talents have basically been exhausted by various companies.If you want to build a competitive team, you can only dig corners.
Investors in the field of autonomous driving believe that the internal disputes of Xiaoma Zhixing will not develop to the extent of the open tears of Roadstar and Jingchi. One of the reasons is that Other entrepreneurial teams, Peng Jun, who has been in business for 22 years, have more mature management experience. “It’s no secret that James and the teacher are not in the industry. Currently, James is standing. ” Industry rumors, Lou Tiancheng intends to withdraw, looking for shareholder acquisition of old stocks. “ I heard that the price of the building is not high, you can go for millions. ”
The driverless truck team seems to be more harmonious than the driverless team in the passenger car direction. The reason is that most of the founding teams of these companies have management genes.
Automobile Truck Company Tucson Future CEO Chen Mo is a serial entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience.Previously involved industries include frame advertising, used car trading and board games. According to reports, Tucson's early investor Sina initially took a look at Chen Mo's commercialization ability, and hoped to introduce Chen Mo to find a commercial direction for autonomous driving.
Another unmanned truck company Zhijia Technology, the founding team also includes consecutive successful entrepreneurs, CEO Liu Wanqian, CTO Zheng Yu previously founded three, two Home technology companies.
“Civil" is not just an entrepreneur. As an emerging industry involving hard technology, investors often only rely on the past experience of the founding team when judging the autopilot project, lacking mature judgment standards. In 2016, during the grass-roots period of domestic auto-driving entrepreneurship, as long as it was launched in the unmanned car department of big companies such as Tesla, Google, NVIDIA, Apple, Baidu, etc., investors will step on the threshold.
Investors measure the standards of the project, which seems to be the past slick resume.Some former Roadstar employees revealed to the Finance News that Roadstar was originally founded by Qi Xian and Zhou Guang, but early investors felt that their experience was not enough, and they introduced the measurement of Google and Tesla. Previously, the three met in Baidu Meiyan for a few months, and could not be called “Common Vision” that Wang Jun considered to be very important.
“ Autopilot is a new industry that is too easy to finance, too easy to swell. ” A practitioner said, "Largers are in front of us, who is not tempted?" ”
10 years ago, Waymo’s predecessor, Google X Lab, began to study unmanned driving, and the outside world’s view of this research is like Google’s study of immortality. medicine. Today, Google's driverless taxi service is already in operation. Compared with Google, the Chinese driverless companies who are behind the starting line are shunned and long. Only entrepreneurs are putting more energy into R&D than rolling.China has a chance to drive automatically, “Curve overtaking”.