Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe's ability to plan for the future reminds one investor of Jeff Bezos

  • Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe has an ability to think decades into the future that's reminiscent of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to T. Rowe Price portfolio manager Joe Fath.
  • Scaringe has outlined an innovative retail model for Rivian that could one day include subscriptions and short-term rentals.
  • Scaringe is also charismatic, intelligent, and humble, Fath said.
  • Are you a current or former Rivian employee? Do you have an opinion about what it's like to work there? Contact this reporter at [email protected], on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address [email protected]
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' expansive vision for the online retailer has turned a once humble bookseller into one of the world's most valuable companies. Instead of maximizing short-term profits, Amazon has invested aggressively in long-term growth and diversification. Since it was founded in 1994, Amazon has built a delivery-logistics network to rival UPS and FedEx while expanding into cloud computing, artificial-intelligence, self-driving cars, and many other lines of business.

Joe Fath, a portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price, sees a Bezos-like penchant for long-term thinking in RJ Scaringe, the CEO of the electric-vehicle startup Rivian, which last year landed an order from Amazon for 100,000 electric delivery trucks (T. Rowe Price is an investor in both Amazon and Rivian.) Scaringe and Bezos share an ability to look beyond the next year or two and consider how the world might change decades into the future, Fath said in an interview with Business Insider.

"RJ, in his mind, he's thinking about the next opportunity — act two, act three. And I think the good CEOs and leaders think about that," Fath said. "They're putting the right people on the field to execute the vision over the short-to-medium term, and then making sure that they're building the business for the long term."

Rivian, which plans to deliver its first vehicles next year, intends to build on Tesla's reinvention of the auto industry's retail model. Like Tesla, Rivian plans to sell directly to its customers, instead of relying on third-party dealerships. Scaringe has also raised the possibility that Rivian could one day launch subscription and short-term rental services.

"The way we consume vehicles, the way those vehicles operate, is going to change," Scaringe said during a 2018 interview with Business Insider. "The company needs to work for the world of 2030, the world of 2040."

Scaringe is humble and learns quickly

Unsurprisingly, Scaringe has drawn comparisons to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. But Fath, who has spent time with both men, says the two have very different personalities. Musk is brash and outspoken, often sharing his opinions about pop culture, space travel, memes, and other subjects on Twitter. Scaringe is more reserved in public, but has a charisma that shined during Fath's interactions with him. Fath said he tends to be skeptical when meeting with startup executives, but came away from his first discussion with Scaringe with the impression that the Rivian CEO is special.

"He's very engaging and kind of lights up the room when he walks in," Fath said. 

The hype Rivian has generated — and the $6 billion it has raised — haven't inflated Scaringe's ego, Fath said. Scaringe understands that he's not an expert on every subject, but he's a fast learner who seeks out people who can fill the gaps in his knowledge. Scaringe's personal and intellectual humility contrast with the imperious management styles of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick and WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, Fath said, both of whom were ultimately pushed out of the companies they started.

"He's very humble," Fath said of Scaringe. "I think RJ is the first one to recognize that he doesn't know everything."

Are you a current or former Rivian employee? Do you have an opinion about what it's like to work there? Contact this reporter at [email protected], on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address [email protected]

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