We’ve gotten confirmation from several
Bothan spies sources that Zero Motorcycle CEO Gene Banman will no longer hold a position at Zero Motorcycles. We first reported on a management shake-up at Zero last month, with news that high-level changes at the Scotts Valley electric motorcycle company were underway. At the time we could only confirm that Zero Motorcycles founder Neal Saiki was out of his position as the company CTO, and now we can confirm that then CEO Gene Banman was also shown the door during that uprooting.
In a press release that’s expected to come out either later this week or early next week (we highly doubt we’ll receive this press release as Zero has put us on double-secret probation for our stories), Zero Motorcycles is expected to announce that current COO Karl Wharton will be taking over the reigns at the company.
Hired in late February 2011, Wharton comes to Zero Motorcycles as a hire pushed through by the Invus investment group (the money behind Zero), and has over 20 years of experience in the motorcycle industry, namely from Triumph USA.
Wharton’s six weeks of employment at Zero may seem like a short stint of time, but it’s been told to us that he was hired specifically to fill the CEO position in the company during the time of his hire, and has spent the past weeks on-boarding into his role at the company.
Zero Motorcycles has been hiring heavily out of the motorcycle industry, also reportedly at the behest of its investors. This news that Wharton will be replacing Banman is just one of many replacements occurring in the company that sees industry vets taking positions at the electric motorcycle manufacturer, with veterans from Buell, Husqvarna, and others coming to the California company.
While we here at A&R wait and see what ridiculous punishment the Scotts Valley company comes up with for us for posting this story, it’s worth a note that this news is not a terribly surprising outcome in the world of budding ventures. Changes in management are often natural, if not logical, steps in an evolution of a company.
Zero and its investors have clearly seen that the original game plan for a motorcycle company that isn’t a “motorcycle company” is not working as implemented, and are making a course correction accordingly. It’ll be interesting to see where the company goes from here with Wharton at the helm.