The boss of Jeremy Clarkson’s social network for cars has left just six months after the website launched.
Drive Tribe CEO Ernesto Schmitt confirmed to Business Insider that he is no longer in charge. Schmitt said “all’s well” and he remains an “active shareholder” in the company, as well as an advisor.
Schmitt exited some time ago, but his departure was not announced and a Companies House “termination of appointment” notice was only published this week.
Drive Tribe went live in November 2016, positioning itself as a digital hub for motoring. It hosts video, articles, social media, and interactive content, which is all organised around channels, known as “tribes,” with a unique tone of voice.
Clarkson, his “Grand Tour” co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May, and the Amazon Prime show’s executive producer Andy Wilman, are all personally invested in the startup. It also has $12 million (£9.2 million) of funding from backers including 21st Century Fox and Jim Breyer, one of the first investors in Facebook.
Wilman said it was Schmitt’s decision to step down and it’s all “happy families” at the company. “The thing that he brought was what kind of tech and approach we should take,” he told Business Insider. “He opened our eyes to what we could do. But he wanted to set it up and then move on. That’s been done.”
Wilman added that Drive Tribe is on the hunt for a new chief executive and there are as many as four candidates in the frame. A headhunter is assisting with the search.
“Can you imagine the four of us looking for a digital tech CEO?” he joked. “We’re allowed to be involved in the interviewing, but cleverer people have done the interviewing before us.”
Engagement in Drive Tribe is “encouraging,” Wilman said, adding that it is becoming less dependent on Clarkson, Hammond, and May — which was always the original ambition.
He explained: “There’s a graph going diagonally. In the beginning, it was very James, Jeremy, and Richard-centric, but the tribe thing is gathering pace. The one thing we didn’t want was another business where the dependence is on them. It’s going well, I’m happy.”
Their ambitions are clear. Hammond told Business Insider last year that success for Drive Tribe is “having the widest, deepest, richest seem of motor-related content and interactivity ever seen.”