Boosted, the company known for making the best all-electric longboards on the market, is changing up its executive ranks. Founder Sanjay Dastoor is stepping down from the CEO role and into a position on the company’s board of directors. In his place, Jeff Russakow — an executive who’s spent time at Yahoo, Symantec, and Adobe, to name a few — is the new CEO of Boosted.
Russakow spoke exclusively with The Verge ahead of the announcement (he’ll also be doing a Reddit AMA today at 1PM ET). But before he discussed the future of the company, he made sure to address the battery-pack-sized elephant in the room.
“First things first,” he says, the extended range battery — which was promised way back in August 2016 and can effectively double the Boosted Board’s range — is “going to be coming out shortly as promised.” Russakow wouldn’t say any more than what customers have already heard; the pack is supposed to be shipping sometime in the next few months. But he wanted to reassure that the product wasn’t being left by the wayside. “I know people have been waiting a long time for that,” he says.
Now, as far as what the change in guard means for the company, Russakow says that fans and customers shouldn’t worry about Boosted being pulled in a totally new direction. “The big picture is Boosted is just growing at a fantastic clip,” Russakow explains. His taking over as CEO will allow Dastoor and John Ulmen, Boosted’s CTO, to “return to the areas that they they most like to focus on,” giving them more time to foster the growing community and press harder on product innovation.
“The mission of the company is exactly the same. Fun, fast, simple transportation,” Russakow says. “The company is just doing splendiferously well, and we're looking forward to an exciting roadmap of many new form factors of light vehicles and other cool stuff.”
“I’d like to say thank you to the amazing and talented Boosted team,” Dastoor wrote in a company blog post announcing the news. “You’ve been such a pleasure to work with, and I’m indebted to you for that privilege. Each of you has worked tirelessly behind the scenes on the smallest of details to create great products and experiences for every rider, and it shows.”
Dastoor has long spoken about how he saw Boosted as much more than just a maker of electric skateboards, and Russakow appears to want the same kind of growth and expansion. But the CEO won’t comment on what, exactly, those new form factors might be. For him, the focus will be on making sure that the current version of the Boosted Board is as widely available as possible around the world.
Then, he says, that business can be used to get ideas that the Boosted team’s already been developing to market faster. “I want to be able to move faster on innovation,” Russakow says. “[The engineers] want to bring more of the innovations we already have in the building, in the skunkworks, to the commercial side, to be able to share it with the riders.” He adds that he hopes to get the company to a place where it’s making “two major product releases of some cool exciting announcement” per year. “An Apple-like cadence, if you will.”
As for the battery smoking issues that Boosted had last fall, and the recall that followed, Russakow says those days are well behind the company. “John and Sanjay just did an exceptionally admirable job when they had two boards smolder,” he says. “They brought in a panel of the biggest brightest minds within Silicon Valley to inspect their design in their manufacturing process and they really were quite classy about how they they addressed it.”
Russakow graduated from the same mechanical engineering program that Dastoor and Ulmen underwent at Stanford back in the 1990s, so he has similar technical chops to that of the co-founders. But he decided to drift from the mechanical world because he felt the technology wasn’t ready for the ideas he and his peers had. “I literally looked at my buddies [in the program] and said look, the best thing I could do is get a beer and a hammock for about 25 years because until batteries get better, until computing gets about 10,000 times faster,” he says. “Until mobile and wireless bandwidth is ubiquitous, we're kind of wasting our time.”
He spent five and a half years as a management consultant before spending 15 years at various Fortune 500 companies. “I definitely learned a lot, particularly from Yahoo, about how to support a billion users a month, to be very consumer-facing” he says.
But Russakow says that coming to Boosted — he’s already started in the role, by the way — is like “coming home” to the mechanical engineering side of his brain. He’s also stepping into the role at a time when the company still has the most valuable advantage one could ask for: it has the superior product in the market.
“We are absolutely the market leader, and thanks to John and Sanjay, you know, this thing is definitely designed as a last mile vehicle, with vehicle level of quality of performance,” he says. “It’s a Tesla. It’s not a toy.”
As Russakow looks to push Boosted towards other form factors, he says fans of the company’s skateboard ethos shouldn’t worry.
“We will, without question, continue to innovate in the electric skateboard category, and we have a lot of exciting things in the works,” he says.
Update August 28th, 11:23AM ET: Added a statement from former CEO Sanjay Dastoor.