Former Tesla vice president Diarmuid O’Connell is now a key executive at another company on the forefront of automotive innovation.
O’Connell, who was Tesla’s vice president of business development for 11 years before leaving the company last fall, has been named chief strategy officer at Fair, a provider of flexible car ownership.
He will help head up organizational and market functions for Fair as it expands its footprint outside of California and begins rolling out its platform to major markets throughout the U.S. later this year.
Before his decade-plus with Tesla, O'Connell was the State Department's chief of staff for political military affairs for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell.
“Diarmuid is a world-class executive and leader who has proven himself in an array of disciplines and organizations — from groundbreaking companies to our country’s national security framework,” Fair founder and chief executive Scott Painter said in a news release.
“Diarmuid’s experience launching revolutionary products will be a critical aspect of our growth plan, while his operational savvy and close relationships at all levels of business and government will help us overcome countless obstacles along the way,” said Painter, who will be among the speakers at the Automotive Intelligence Summit this summer.
After leaving Tesla, O’Connell reconnected with Painter — who he has known for five or six years — and Fair co-founder Georg Bauer, whom he worked with previously at Tesla.
Fair is at a similar stage that Tesla was when he joined the carmarker more than a decade ago, O’Connell said.
“I’m joining Fair at basically the same stage that I joined Tesla, which is, a relatively small team, with an early commercial effort, but super promising prospects, and willing to sort of explore new ways of doing things in the interest of developing a better experience for folks to access and use cars,” O’Connell said in a phone interview.
Likewise, working with companies in their startup phase that are not bound “legacy issues” brings other similarities, as well.
“You have the opportunity to basically pick a white sheet of paper up and design a system that works for the conditions that are existing at this moment in time, not necessarily constrained by history,” he said.
Tesla was able to deploy new technology to meet current consumer needs, “and that’s exactly what’s going on with Fair,” O'Connell said.
“We’ve developed a technology platform that allows for very simple and easy adoption and use. And it takes advantage of the mentality and the market conditions that we find ourselves in right now,” he said. “And the mentality is, one where we are moving away from the model of owning metal and more toward the model of accessing mobility.”
O’Connell said the future is likely to include “a mix of car ownership and shared services,” and that his new company is “perfectly positioned” to align with the changing mentality and marketplace conditions.
Fair is aiming to expand across the U.S. in the second half of the year.
Stay tuned for a story this week detailing that rollout.