HOUSTON — Autonomous big rig technology company Embark is laying off 70% of its workforce and will likely be forced to shut down complexly in the coming weeks.
Company co-founder Alex Rodrigues made the announcement March 3 in an e-mail to employees.
“I am writing to you today with a heavy heart,” the e-mail stated. “The last 9 months have been tough for the autonomous trucking industry, and for Embark — the capital markets have turned their backs on pre-revenue companies, just as slipping manufacturer timelines have delayed the prospect of scaled commercial deployment.”
Rodrigues also notes that “we have been working very hard to find a path forward in the face of these challenges, including refining our existing plan, exploring alternative markets and attempting to find a buyer for the company.”
However, Rodrigues writes, “after thoroughly evaluating all alternatives, we have been unable to identify a path forward for the business in its current form.”
Rodrigues told employees that over the next few weeks, he and other executives at the company will work closely with the Board of Directors to evaluate options, including selling assets, restructuring the company or shutting down completely.
“Although there are many external things that we wish had gone differently, ultimately this outcome is my responsibility,” Rodrigues wrote. “In challenging times, it is the whole company’s job to be flexible and optimistic in pursuing a sometimes-changing direction — and it is the job of the CEO to navigate the challenges and make sure those directions ultimately get the team to the other side. You held up your end of that bargain, I was not able to hold up mine — for that I am profoundly sorry.”
In November 2022, Embark announced that it had added four new autonomous trucking facilities in the Sunbelt states, including nine transfer point sites in cities across the southern part of the U.S.
The company also made headlines in June 2022 after scoring a perfect safety record with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
And in February 2022, Embark and Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. announced the launch of the Truck Transfer Program, which was intended to give Knight-Swift and its drivers direct access to Embark’s technology.
Embark will be shutting down its offices in Houston and southern California in the coming days, Rodrigues noted.
“I believe that solving autonomous trucking will one day be a huge benefit to society, and while Embark may not be there to see the vision through in its current form, I hope you know that your work made a difference in pushing the industry forward,” Rodrigues wrote in his letter’s closing. “As a leader, founder, coworker, and friend, this is a day I never hoped to see, but I want to say thank you to all of you from the bottom of my heart for being on this journey with me.”
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.