It is hard to believe that for over a year now (16 months by our count) that Zero Motorcycles has gone along without a hand on the rudder. Well…that’s not entirely true of course, as we hear that Zero’s COO Karl Wharton has been calling the shots at the Scotts Valley company in the interim, but the duration certainly has been done without a formal leader at the electric motorcycle manufacturer. That all ends today though, as Richard Walker has been appointed as the new CEO of Zero Motorcycles.
Walker comes with references from Hewlett Packard & Control4 (a home automation controller company). At HP, Walker was the VP and General Manager of the Consumer Desktop Business Division, which was responsible for the HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario, and HP Touchsmart product lines. While at Control4, Walker was the Executive Vice President of Product Development and Product Operations, so we are guessing he knows a thing or two about bringing a product to market.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to join a dynamic team and help lead a new and innovative company to higher levels of performance and success,” said Walker. “My goal is to ensure that Zero Motorcycles continues to grow and lead the electric motorcycle industry through product innovation and sound management, while never losing sight of our goal to build a ‘better motorcycle’ for our customers to enjoy.”
As far as we can tell, Walker has no formal experience in the motorcycle industry, though Zero Motorcycles says it aims to create a management team that is blended with voices from within and outside the motorcycle industry. For the same reason I have been fairly vocal about applauding Harley-Davidson for bringing an outsider into the company’s CEO role, I have the same reservations about Walker’s appointment now at Zero.
In the case of Harley-Davidson, the company desperately needed to revamp its business operations for the changing economic and market conditions — a job perfect for an operations man like Keith Wandell. However at Zero Motorcycles, the electric motorcycle company desperately needs to bring a bike to market that actually functions and looks like a traditional motorcycle. It’s hard to see how an outsider to motorcycling (we have a call in to Zero to see if Walker even rides a motorcycle) is going to be able to drive those kind of changes within Zero.
Hopefully Walker can bring his product development skills to the table at Zero, while his team of industry veterans can help steer the company in a direction that more closely follows the expectations of seasoned motorcycle enthusiasts. But as always, time will tell on this one. Welcome to the meat grinder Richard.
Source: Zero Motorcycles