TrueCar CEO & Founder Stepping Down

Scott Painter, founder of the online car-shopping site TrueCar Inc., will step down as CEO of the company later this year.

TrueCar said a successor is expected to take office by year-end. Painter, 46, will remain chairman of the company’s board of directors.

“After a decade of building TrueCar from an idea into a public company,” Painter said in a statement, “I have come to the conclusion reached by many founders and entrepreneurs in my position: It is time for a change.”

Christopher Claus, a TrueCar director since April 2014, has been named lead independent director and will focus on the board’s search for a new CEO.

Claus will also help build ties with USAA, a group of companies that provides insurance, banking, investments and retirement products to current and former members of the U.S. military. Claus is a former senior executive with USAA, a key business partner and TrueCar’s largest shareholder.

“I am honored to begin serving as the lead independent director and look forward to working closely with the leadership team to build upon and execute the vision that Scott has created, as well as maintain a strong partnership with the company’s largest affinity partner, USAA,” Claus said in a statement.

The company’s announcement made no mention of President John Krafcik or whether he could be a candidate for the top job.

Krafcik, former CEO and president of Hyundai Motor America, joined the TrueCar board of directors in February 2014 and was named president of the company in April 2014.

Painter, who founded TrueCar in 2004, is a serial entrepreneur whose auto-related ventures have included, Build-To-Order Inc. and AUTOAccess, which he started while he was an economics student at the University of California-Berkeley.

He led TrueCar through a period of rapid growth, built around offering consumers a low-price promise without the hassle of negotiating with dealers.

The company went public in May 2014 and its shares have swung broadly, peaking at $25.00 and falling as low as $5.45, over the last year.

The company’s rapid growth was followed by a near collapse in 2012 that saw thousands of dealers exit the TrueCar network amid complaints about bidding wars that caused them to sell cars at a loss. The company also faced legal challenges in several states on grounds that it violated auto-brokering and advertising laws.

Since that period, which Painter and other insiders refer to as “the swirl,” TrueCar has sought to rebuild relationships with dealers and regulators. It abandoned its low-price pitch in favor of a “fair price” promise and formed a dealer council to listen to their concerns. It also modified its fee structure in some states to comply with regulations.

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