SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Chip Perry, who helped build Autotrader from a one-person startup to a $1.5 billion online automotive marketplace, will become TrueCar’s next president and CEO on Dec. 15.
The challenge is different this time around. Rather than creating a new segment of the automotive retail industry, Perry takes the helm of a company coming off its second public relations debacle in four years. He replaces TrueCar founder Scott Painter, who will formally step down on Dec. 15 as CEO and vacate his positions as chairman and member of the firm’s board of directors.
“I’ve followed TrueCar’s progress for many years and am truly excited to be joining the company. TrueCar has built incredible tools for car buyers and retailers and has a strong base on which to grow,” Perry said. “My initial focus will be on TrueCar’s dealer partners — listening to them and finding ways to serve them better.”
In August, Painter announced his retirement from the company he founded in 2006 after a tumultuous July for the car-shopping site. After parting ways with dealer giant AutoNation on July 9 over a data-sharing dispute, the firm reported a second quarter loss of $14.7 million.
In mid-September, TrueCar suffered another hit when John Krafcik, who was named president of the firm in May 2014, was hired away by Google to head its autonomous car division. Larry Dominique, vice president of industry relations, also announced his departure from the company following Painter’s resignation.
The executive departures and well-publicized divorce with AutoNation came three years after the 2012 dealer revolt that nearly put the site out of business. “It was an expensive correction,” Painter told F&I and Showroom in early 2013, after the company spent the better half of 2012 making amends with dealers across the country.
“As founder of TrueCar, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but it’s time for a change and we have found exactly the right person for the job,” Painter said.
In Perry, TrueCar gets a well-respected executive in the automotive retail industry. He was AutoTrader’s first employee when he joined the firm in 1997. He led the company until 2013, guiding it as it grew its dealer count to 20,000 customers, its employee count to 3,500 and the site’s monthly unique visitors to 16 million. He also oversaw AutoTrader’s acquisitions of Kelley Blue Book, VinSolutions, vAuto and HomeNet Automotives.
Prior to starting Autotrader, Perry was a management consultant in the Los Angeles office of McKinsey & Co. He also served as avice president of new business development at the Los Angeles Times. He most recently served as president and CEO of Atlanta-based RentPath LLC, parent company of ApartmentGuide.com and Rent.com.
“There’s enormous opportunity in TrueCar’s business,” Perry said. “This company has great assets and I look forward to working with the team to scale the business and generate value for all of TrueCar’s stakeholders.”