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Former Cisco Executive Warrior Tapped to Run U.S. Operations of Tesla Rival NextEV

Once a contender to run Cisco, Padmasree Warrior will be CEO of NextEV's U.S. operations and chief digital officer globally.


Padmasree Warrior, the former chief technology and strategy officer of networking giant Cisco Systems, has landed a new job as the CEO of the U.S. division of NextEV, a China-based electric vehicle company and potential rival to Tesla Motors.

NextEV, based in Shanghai, has attracted about a half-billion dollars in investments from the likes of venture capital firm Sequoia Ventures, Tencent Holdings and Hillhouse Capital, a China-based investment firm that has also backed Uber. NextEV has said that sometime in 2016 it plans to roll out a car that will match Tesla’s “Ludicrous” speed mode.

It’s unclear exactly how much the company has raised, but Bloomberg News reported in September that the firm is seeking as much as $1 billion from investors. It has an 85,000-square-foot research facility in San Jose, Calif., plus a design center in Munich, Germany. In an interview with Re/code, Warrior called it a “global startup.”

She said her role will be twofold. She’ll be CEO of the U.S. division of the company and, globally, serve as chief digital officer in charge of its technology efforts, including software development and user experience. “The principle vision is to build a car that is designed for the mobile and Internet era,” she said. “We’re trying to imagine how the experience of having a car would be different today, and how you would involve the customer in the process.”

Before leaving earlier this year, Warrior had been CTO at Cisco since 2008, succeeding Charlie Giancarlo, and added the title of CSO in 2012. A native of India, she earned a chemical engineering degree at New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Technology. She then moved to the U.S. and earned a master’s degree in the same subject at Cornell University. While studying for a PhD she accepted a job in Motorola’s Semiconductor unit and stayed on at that company for more than two decades. She spent four years as Motorola’s CTO before joining Cisco. She also sits on the boards of Microsoft, Box and retailer Gap.

At Cisco she was considered a potential successor to longtime CEO John Chambers, but was one of several who lost out to Chuck Robbins, who was named Cisco’s CEO earlier this year. She left Cisco over the summer. Her last act for Cisco was helping negotiate a strategic alliance with Apple.

She also turns out to be the second former Cisco exec to land at a high-tech transportation company. In September, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop company named Rob Lloyd, a former Cisco president, as its first CEO.

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