DON BURNETTE AND Paz Eshel are Silicon Valley, through and through. Burnette is a veteran of Google’s self-driving car project and Otto, the robotic trucking company acquired by Uber. Eshel has a background in venture capital, and his résumé is a rolling list of enterprise startups.
But when the pair went looking for a place to operate the self-driving trucks they’re building through their year-old startup, Kodiak Robotics, Silicon Valley—really, all of California—was never on the table. For a simple reason: It’s not legal to operate an autonomous truck there, though the state is working on regulations. “For now, we don’t see an immediate, short-term path forward in California, and that’s why we’re looking elsewhere,” says Burnette.
Tuesday, Kodiak is announcing its elsewhere: Dallas, where the startup has opened an eight-employee office, from which it will oversee its first commercial route. Someone—it won’t say who yet—is paying Kodiak to carry its goods between Dallas and Houston, more than 400 miles roundtrip.