TrueCar Inc. said CEO Chip Perry, who came on board in 2015 to mend relationships with dealers after a successful run building up Autotrader, is retiring. The company said in a statement Monday that Perry, 65, will remain in an advisory capacity.
Michael Darrow, 61, has been named interim president and CEO. He is currently executive vice president of partner and OEM development, as well as president of ALG.
"I feel beyond proud of the work the TrueCar team has done over the past few years," Perry said in a company statement. Perry added that TrueCar has "righted the ship," rebuilding its dealer network to more than 16,500 dealers while also making several technology upgrades.
"With these critical puzzle pieces now in place, I believe TrueCar is well positioned to create even more fabulous new products and services that will provide significant additional value to consumers, dealers and OEMs."
Perry was the first employee at AutoTrader in 1997, and was the company’s CEO until 2013. There, he oversaw the company’s growth into a company with $1 billion in annual revenue and the largest third-party vehicle shopping website on the internet. Perry oversaw AutoTrader’s acquisition of Kelley Blue book, VinSolutions, vAuto and HomeNet automotive, which are now under the Cox Automotive umbrella.
At TrueCar, Perry replaced Scott Painter, after the company had a bitter dispute with AutoNation Inc. The largest U.S. dealership group pulled its 279 stores from TrueCar’s network, and Painter subsequently stepped down. His departure also stemmed from disappointing second quarter results and questions over how the company was sharing dealer customer data. AutoNation came back to TrueCar in 2016.
In the first quarter of this year, the company’s total revenue climbed 6 percent to $85.6 million, and its dealer count grew 9 percent to 16,529. But it reported a net loss of $14.4 million in the period, following losses in 2018, 2017 and 2016.
Perry, at a J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communication conference in Boston last month, acknowledged that he was tasked with repairing relationships with dealers when he came on board three and half years ago. He said TrueCar has since added some 3,500 dealers back to its customer list, and now serves about 40-45 percent of franchised dealers in the U.S.
He said TrueCar expects only a modest uptick in franchise dealers this year, “but we have good strong healthy network now that is stable.”