It was just before the pandemic really kicked into gear last year that Hyundai and Canoo, the cool egg-shaped EV startup, announced that they were teaming up to make EVs. The details of that deal were vague then, and now the whole thing appears to be off.
Sean O’Kane at The Verge probably deserves hazard pay for listening to Canoo’s earnings call yesterday, but he did, and it sounds like it was a little more exciting than your average quarterly earnings call:
Canoo chairman Tony Aquila shared the [Hyundai news] Monday during an icy investor call — Canoo’s first as a publicly-traded company. Canoo’s CEO was also absent from the call, and the company announced earlier in the day that its CFO had resigned to take another job — the second major departure in recent weeks following Canoo losing its head of corporate strategy.
“These are significant surprises on the call today, and that’s not ideal,” Roth Capital analyst Craig Irwin said at one point on the call.
The deal with Hyundai was announced in February 2020, and it was supposed to result in both the Hyundai and Kia brands building vehicles on Canoo’s electric vehicle platform. It was seen as a major vote of confidence in the startup, which was just two years old at the time, as well as its tech. Canoo called it a “key partnership.” Hyundai did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Canoo did not respond beyond Aquila’s statements.
Aquila was at one point forced to confirm that the CEO was still employed by the company, while Aquila, who was appointed Executive Chairman of Canoo in October, also felt free enough to talk a little shit about some of the people who had come before him:
Aquila said they were “a little more aggressive” than he would’ve been with some of their public statements, and that talk of potential partnerships was “presumptuous.”
“You’ve got to be careful with statements you make. So, you know, again, I think it was a little premature,” he said.
If you’ve ever worked at a startup, you know that dysfunctional chaos is par for the course. In that respect, none of this is very surprising. On the other hand, Canoo has been a going concern for around five years now, and you’d sort of hope that it would have settled into a more boring posture.
I say that because I quite like their products, or planned products, like its anti-Cybertruck. Canoo also said yesterday that it has $702.4 million in cash or cash equivalents as of December 31, and it expects to have spent up to $62 million in the first quarter of 2021, suggesting that the cyber eggs aren’t going anywhere in the near term. But the finish line now seems much further away.