Dear Torc’rs and friends,

I have had an amazing career leading this team for the last 17 years from start-up, to scale-up, to acquisition, to rapid growth. I’ve often reflected how bold (which is a synonym for absurd) it was to start Torc as a student in 2005 to commercialize autonomous vehicles. Perhaps even more bold (or absurd) are the Torc’rs that joined at this stage and stayed committed to our mission for the last 17 years. Many of these people are still with us today.. It was this commitment and resiliency that allowed Torc to pioneer the virtual driver to cross the finish line in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. I cannot thank these Torc’rs enough for their boldness and dedication.

In the scale-up phase, Torc grew in revenue and was profitable for 13 consecutive years by commercializing the virtual driver with early adopters in mining and defense. In one of my favorite books, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, it estimates a 0.2% chance of making it to this stage of revenue. I cannot thank the Torc’rs enough for defying the odds and finding ways to win throughout the ups and downs during this 13-year period.

In 2018, while the industry was fixated on robotaxi applications, I made the difficult decision to pivot towards trucking as I believed it was an easier problem to solve with a much stronger business case. From experience, we knew an OEM was critical to commercializing autonomous vehicles. In our search for a truck OEM, we found a great cultural fit with market share leader Daimler Truck and joined as an independent entity to retain our culture of innovation. Joining the Daimler Truck family was one of the best moves that Torc could have made and that becomes clearer to me each day.

Since joining the Daimler Truck family three years ago, we more than quadrupled to our headcount to more than 600 and opened three new locations. This growth required Torc to bring on new leaders, create new teams, restructure existing teams, revamp process and systems, and change the way we make decisions and communicate. This growth would have not been possible without Torc’rs commitment to drive change at all levels.

Today, Torc is a major player in the autonomous vehicle market and well positioned to be the first to a profitable, scalable, autonomous product. Torc has a growing army of Ideal Torc’rs (hungry, humble, people smart) focusing on one application (long haul trucking), one platform (Autonomous Cascadia), one region (US). We also have the commitment and backing of the market leader, Daimler Truck.

“I have chosen this point in time to step down as CEO to start a new chapter in my life focused on the Self-Driving Institute non-profit I founded three years ago and flying adventures with family and friends. I will always cherish my time as CEO at Torc as I consider it the capstone of my career.”

– Michael Fleming, August 18, 2022

With Torc being in such a great position, I have chosen this point to step down as CEO to start a new chapter in my life focused on the Self-Driving Institute non-profit I founded three years ago to give back to the local community and continue my passion for aviation by flying around the world. I will always cherish my time as CEO at Torc as I consider it the capstone of my career. Some fun facts about my career: (1) this has been my only job; (2) I believe I am the longest tenured CEO at an autonomous vehicle company; (3) I am retiring without ever having a job promotion :blush:.

On a more serious note, I still find myself overwhelmed when I think about the number of Torc’rs, their families, and their communities we have positively impacted over the last 17 years.

I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Vaughan Schmidt will serve as the next Torc CEO. As you know, Peter has been Torc’s biggest champion at Daimler Truck, so I feel very fortunate that he has agreed to accept this new role. Peter has been involved in each phase of the evolution of Torc over the last few years: acquisition, continued investment, and accelerated growth of Torc. Peter, who will officially take over as Torc CEO on October 1st, is committed to taking Torc to the next level and will be relocating to Blacksburg, VA. During the next month I will involve Peter in many of the day-to-day operations to ensure a smooth handover. Please help me welcome Peter as our next CEO.

I wear many hats at Torc including founder, CEO, shareholder, and Board Member. I will continue to stay involved in Torc as a Board Member advising Peter as he continues our mission and takes the organization to the next level.

Torc’rs are the most resilient, experienced, and dedicated team in the industry and your accomplishments over the last 17 years validate this statement. Thank you for entrusting me to lead you as your CEO for almost two decades.

Keep being bold!