Mawakana had most recently served as COO and Dolgov as chief technology officer. The two have developed a close working relationship and have been heavily involved in Waymo's most high-profile milestones, including the ongoing driverless testing of AVs in Phoenix as part of the Waymo One ride-hailing service and the development of the Waymo Via delivery division.
"We've worked together on pretty much everything," Dolgov told Automotive News. "I have a hard time thinking of something we did not work closely on in the past few years."
Co-CEO structures are uncommon, though not rare. Netflix instituted a similar arrangement last July between founder Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos. Companies such as Oracle, Salesforce and SAP have curtailed forays into dual-leadership experiments.
The arrangement offers stability at a time when Waymo has made slow and steady progress in launching driverless operations for members of the public in its metro Phoenix operational hub.
Growing autonomous-driving service beyond Phoenix will likely be a priority for the new leadership team. In February, Waymo said it would expand its operations in San Francisco, and Dolgov affirms that will be an initial focus.
"We are on a path to expand in new cities, particularly in California," he said. "Of course, we've been driving there since the earliest days. Now we're working to map out the next steps."
Beyond ride-hailing service, Waymo has reinvigorated its push into long-haul trucking, which many — including Waymo rival Aurora — believe will be the first practical operational applications for autonomous vehicles. On that front, Waymo has cultivated a partnership with Daimler Trucks, and it has another promising tie-up with UPS Inc.
"It's been an amazing journey," Dolgov said. "When we started, I and a few others believed in the long-term potential of this technology, and it's just been so rewarding to see our team grow, to execute on the mission and see this thing becoming real."
It has been a winding journey. Growing up in Moscow, Dolgov traveled abroad often. He lived in Japan for a year, attended high school in the United States, and then returned to Russia to study math and physics before coming back to the U.S. to earn a doctorate in computer science at the University of Michigan.
Mawakana was born in Mississippi but lived in Texas, Georgia and Virginia. After graduating from law school, she initially wanted to practice employment law or work on educational policy. Her initial work instead focused on tech — specifically surrounding potential interference in the orbital arc of satellites and issues involving the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It may have interfered with her initial plans but set her on a new trajectory.
"That sounds about as wonky as anything can sound," she said. "That's what moved me into tech, and I stayed in it. Why I've stayed is because I really do believe, fundamentally, that technology can improve people's lives. And that's a big part of how I landed at Waymo."