All this began in a booth in a dark corner of an Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh two years ago when Salesky shared a secret with Rander, a mentor who gave him his first job in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Salesky told him he had never felt at home in Silicon Valley, and now he was ready to strike out on his own. Rander surprised his protégé by disclosing the same thing.
“The two of us at dinner were caught flat-footed, thinking, ‘Whoa, I didn’t expect this,’” recalls Salesky. “That was the spark.”
What followed was a speed round of meetings with venture capitalists and prospective automotive clients before Ford signed on to hand over the keys to its self-driving future to two guys with no staff, no assets, and a company name borrowed from the first ship in Greek mythology.