Briefing: Byton co-founder, terminated as CEO, joins rival EV startup
Apr 17, 2019
What happened: Carsten Breitfeld, co-founder of Nanjing-based electric vehicle startup Byton, has left the company to join competing firm Iconiq, following a report last week by German Manager Magazine about his departure. His new role at Iconiq remains unclear, as does the status of his board chairmanship at Byton. In January, Byton’s board voted to remove Breitfeld as CEO, replacing him with co-founder Daniel Kitchener. At the Shanghai auto show, Breitfeld said, “it’s the passion of pursuing the dream that makes me want to join Iconiq. I have faith in leading the team to realize that.”
Why it’s important: Founded in 2016 and backed by Tencent, Byton has achieved a $4 billion dollar valuation without putting a single vehicle on the road. According to reports in March, the company plans on securing a $500 million-plus Series C fundraising round before commencing mass-production on its production model car in the fourth quarter of 2019. But as evidence of a weakening Chinese auto market mounts amid concerns that the country’s EV industry is facing an increasingly dangerous bubble, Byton and its startup competitors have an uncertain future ahead.