Former Tesla CFO joins major drone delivery company

One of the most famous drone delivery companies out there has just landed a key hire whose resume includes former Tesla CFO — and who also has ties to Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google.

Deepak Ahuja. Photo courtesy of Zipline.

California-based drone company Zipline announced in September that it has hired Deepak Ahuja to serve as its first ever Chief Business and Chief Financial Officer. Ahuja’s work history includes former Tesla CFO as well as former Verily CFO, which is a life sciences research organization that’s part of Alphabet.

His first day in the new role as Zipline CFO is set for Sept. 30, and his responsibilities will include overseeing global financial operations, which include finance, accounting and investor relations.

Ahuja not the only big hire recently over at Zipline. The company also recently added its first ever Chief Marketing Officer, Ashley Chandler, who joins from past roles at Color Health, Stripe and Google.

Zipline is largely considered to be the biggest drone service provider in the world given its presence in many countries, (primarily developing countries in Africa including Rwanda and Ghana). Thus far it has delivered more than 380,000 packages over more than 25 million autonomous miles, mostly consisting of medical supplies like blood, vaccines, prescriptions and COVID-related supplies.

More recently, it has added on deliveries in the retail sector with more traditional e-commerce items. In fact, just earlier this month, Zipline announced a partnership with African e-commerce platform Jumia to use drones to deliver its products (which range from electronics to clothing to beauty products) via drone in Ghana, with plans to expand elsewhere in Africa.

Zipline in September 2022 announced a partnership with e-commerce company Jumia. Photo courtesy of Zipline.

And Zipline continues to grow at a relatively rapid clip. While Zipline started 2021 with operations in just three countries, today Zipline operates in seven countries across three continents. It even conducts drone deliveries in the United States. Zipline claims that it completes, on average, one delivery every two minutes. For context, Zipline completed as many deliveries last month as it did in the entirety of 2019. 

“Since it was founded, Zipline has focused on building solutions that can deliver massive scale at high levels of automation and integration, and at low operational cost,” Ahuja said. “Zipline is therefore in a unique position to be a major force in solving this problem at scale.”

Photo courtesy of Zipline.

Other recent wins for Zipline include receiving FAA Part 135 approval for its long-range drone delivery service in the U.S., a partnership with the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and the launch of a unique, new Detection and Avoidance (DAA) system that uses a acoustic-based technology (rather than visual sensor-based tech). And earlier this summer, NASA announced a partnership under a Space Act Agreement where Zipline will help develop tools and techniques under NASA’s (m:N) project.

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