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Walmart just lost its top tech executive

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

A hat tip to you, Jeremy King.

Walmart (WMT) confirmed to Yahoo Finance Wednesday that Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King — a well-regarded tech executive who has played a key role in shaping Walmart’s online turnaround in recent years — will depart the company on March 29. The world’s largest retailer tells Yahoo Finance that King will be joining a “non-competing” company.

King joined Walmart’s innovation lab some eight years ago after stints with LiveOps and eBay. Since then, King has overseen several acquisitions of online-only clothing brands and the overhaul of Walmart’s website.

“While Jeremy will be missed, he leaves us with an outstanding leadership team and organization well-positioned to advance Walmart’s strategic priorities seamlessly and with excellence,” wrote Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran and e-commerce chief Marc Lore in an email to employees obtained by Yahoo Finance.

Without question, King exits Walmart better than when he arrived.

Walmart’s e-commerce push

The world’s largest retailer has a lot on its plate when it comes to tech this year, King told Yahoo Finance earlier this year. Some of the projects sound more out of a scene from “The Jetsons” than things cooked up from Walmart’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark. But taken together, they are likely to save Walmart a good bit of money and improve the shopping experience as it challenges a mostly storeless Amazon.

At the time, King told Yahoo Finance that Walmart is testing a robot that could pack a tractor trailer with merchandise (and unpack it, of course). The effort should drive more efficiencies for Walmart in the supply chain, which is important as the company seeks to speed up delivery times.

Meanwhile, the company is moving forward with pilots of autonomous vehicles and the delivery of merchandise. In July 2018, Walmart inked a deal with Alphabet’s Waymo to test shoppers picking up their groceries using autonomous cars in Phoenix. And in November, Walmart teamed up with Ford and Postmates to test delivery via autonomous cars in Miami.

The company is also in the process of rolling out its online grocery ordering function to hundreds more of its U.S. stores.

Efforts along those lines — as well as an expansion of items available for sale on Walmart’s website — are starting to pay dividends for the company. Walmart’s e-commerce sales surged 43% year-over-year for the second straight quarter in the fourth quarter.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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