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Canoo loses more executives as EV startup hemorrhages talent

Electric-vehicle startup Canoo Inc. has lost several key executives in recent weeks, deepening a talent drain as it faces an investigation by securities regulators.

Among the recent departures is Mike de Jung, an early employee and close associate of Canoo’s chief designer; Nicolas Leblanc, vehicle program lead; and Richard Walker, who oversaw software controls, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. Steven Offutt, one of Canoo’s earliest employees and the head of powertrain and battery manufacturing engineering, is also stepping down, the people said.

“When you have smart, talented people, this sometimes happens,” a Canoo spokesperson said in a statement that didn’t directly address the departures. De Jung and Offutt didn’t respond to requests for comment, while Walker declined to comment. Leblanc confirmed his exit in a LinkedIn message.

The losses complicate Canoo’s efforts to start manufacturing commercially focused electric vans later this year.

The company has been under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over its 2020 merger with a blank-check firm and subsequent “departures of certain of the company’s officers,” Canoo said in a regulatory filing. The company also faced pushback following a strategic shift last year away from contract engineering services.

EV startups have been under pressure recently as investor sentiment has shifted following a wave of buzzy mergers and stock offerings last year. Companies such as Nikola Corp., Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc. and Electric Last Mile Solutions Inc. have struggled with executive resignations and other stumbles in the competition to take on EV market leader Tesla Inc.

Canoo early last year lost CEO Ulrich Kranz, who took a job at Apple working on the company’s secretive car project, as well as its CFO, general counsel and powertrain division lead. By the end of the year, Canoo’s chief technology officer and several other executives left.

The departures have continued more recently, with the chief marketing officer and vice presidents of manufacturing and investor relations stepping down, Insider reported last week.

Canoo’s shares fell 24 percent this year through Friday’s close.

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