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TuSimple Holdings Inc. (TSP US)

Year: 2021

Start-up autonomous truck company TuSimple listed on the NASDAQ in April 2021. It was targeted by short-seller Grizzly Research in August alleging that the founders had a track record of failure and the company's technology was undifferentiated from peers. No accounting or fraud allegations were made. 

Last updated September 2021


TuSimple Holdings engages in the operation and development of autonomous trucks. It develops autonomous technology specifically designed for semi-trucks. The company was founded by Mo Chen and Xiaodi Hou in 2015 and is headquartered in San Diego, California.

On 15 April 2021, the company listed on the NASDAQ, raising US$1.35bn. The managers were Morgan Stanley, BofA, Citigroup, Cowen & Co, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Nomura and RBC.

On 10 August 2021, Grizzly Research released a report: "L4 Autonomous Truck Driving will not be so simple for TuSimple Holdings Inc.". It believed the company had been hyped-up and misrepresented key information. The main arguments were as follows:

  • TuSimple's investors included VectoIQ and Stephen Girsky whom had been at the centre of the Nikola Motors scandal.
  • TuSimple’s founders, Mo Chen and Xiaodi Hou, had a history of failure involving bankruptcies and suspended business licenses.
  • The company touted pre-orders of 5,700 which equated to US$420m in potential revenue; however, these orders could be cancelled by customers at any time. The US$500 deposit per truck deposit was completely refundable. Around 4,000 of these pre-orders were made by equity partners where no deposit was required.
  • TuSimple presented Navistar as a key customer. In reality, TuSimple had to reimburse Navistar US$10m for expenses. TuSimple was not going to make any money from this relationship any time soon. The relationship represented zero risk for Navistar while all the burden lay with TuSimple. While Navistar helped TuSimple reach KPIs, it made over $200m from its March 2021 pre-IPO investments in TuSimple alone.
  • Other than using a HD camera, the company’s technology was in no way differentiated from the competition.
  • Regulatory uncertainty revolving around Chinese companies listed abroad added uncertainty to the company's future. Its major investor was a Chinese company while the company’s 62.5% voting power was in the hands of its two co-founders, Mo Chen and Xiaodi Hou. Grizzly said that the company seemed to be trying to hide its Chinese connections from investors.

COMMENT: The allegations against TuSimple relate more to the way the company has been sold to investors than any form of fraud. At the time of writing, TuSimple's stock price remained largely unchanged since the report's publication.


Grizzly Research: L4 Autonomous Truck Driving will not be so simple for TuSimple, 10 Aug 21
TuSimple Holdings: FY 2021, H1 Report, PE June 2021
TuSimple Holdings: Prospectus, 14 Apr 21
SEC Filings
PR Newswire announcements


 

Auditors

Company From To
KPMG 2020' -

Advisors

(IPO - Initial Public Offering, ASO - Additional Share offerings)

Type Date Role Party
IPO 15-Apr-21 Auditor(s) KPMG
IPO 15-Apr-21 Co-Manager(s) Valuable Capital Ltd
IPO 15-Apr-21 Co-Manager(s) Oppenheimer & Co
IPO 15-Apr-21 Co-Manager(s) Piper Sandler & Co
IPO 15-Apr-21 Co-Manager(s) Robert W Baird & Co
IPO 15-Apr-21 Co-Manager(s) Needham & Co
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books Nomura
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books Bank of America Merrill Lynch
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books JP Morgan
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books Citigroup
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books Cowen & Co
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books RBC Capital Markets
IPO 15-Apr-21 Joint Lead Managers-Books Credit Suisse
IPO 15-Apr-21 Left Lead Morgan Stanley
IPO 15-Apr-21 Legal Adviser to the Issuer(s) Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve
IPO 15-Apr-21 Legal Adviser(s) to the Manager(s) Davis Polk & Wardwell
IPO 15-Apr-21 Registrar(s) American Stock Transfer & Trust Company
IPO 15-Apr-21 Transfer Agent(s) American Stock Transfer & Trust Company

Directors

(CAC/MAC Chairman / Member Audit Committee - NC Nomination /Governance Comm. - CC Compensation/Remuneration Committee)

Type Name Role From To
Executive Cheng Lu CEO, President Sep.2020 -
Executive Mo Chen Chairman, Co-Founder Sep.2020 -
Executive Xiaodi Hou CTO, Co-Founder Sep.2020 -
Independent Brad Buss CAC, MNC 31-Jan-21 -
Independent Charles Chao CNC 22-Apr-19 -
Independent Karen Francis MAC, CCC 1-Feb-21 -
Non-Executive Bonnie Yi Zhang MAC, MCC 30-Sep-20 -
Senior Management Patrick Dillon CFO Dec.2020 -
Senior Management James Mullen Chief Administrative and Legal Officer Sep.2020 -
Senior Management Charles Price Chief Product Officer Sep.2017 -
Senior Management Eric Tapia VP, Principal accounting officer 7-Feb-21 -

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