Daniel Kan, co-founder and chief product officer of Cruise LLC, a self-driving car subsidiary of General Motors Co., today bid farewell to the company just a day after the departure of chief executive Kyle Vogt.
In what looks like a testing time for GM, chief executive Mary Barra has been trying to pick up the pieces. In a call with Cruise staff obtained by Forbes, Barra called the loss of two pivotal figures an “opportunity to start our rebuilding.” In the 30 minutes Barra talked with staff, it seems confidence was still high regarding the Cruise mission despite what’s beginning to look like a scramble to exist.
The problems began when, at the beginning of October this year, one of Cruise’s robotoxis in San Francisco dragged a pedestrian 20 feet down the street after she had been knocked into the path of the driverless Cruise car. The California Department of Motor Vehicles and California’s Public Utilities Commission later dealt a blow to Cruise when the necessary permits were taken away for the taxis to work. Cruise subsequently stopped operations of its cars in Austin, Houston, and Phoenix, admitting that there were issues with the car’s Collision Detection Subsystem software.
While the company said the problem could easily be remedied, the ordeal became a public relations nightmare, with Vogt saying there would be layoffs. Yesterday, he took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to announce he was leaving the building, but saying he was proud of what he’d done with a company “I’d launched in my garage.”
“Cruise is still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead,” he added. “The folks at Cruise are brilliant, driven, and resilient. They’re executing on a solid, multi-year roadmap and an exciting product vision. I’m thrilled to see what Cruise has in store next!”
Inspiring words maybe, but perhaps typically conventional bromide from a man who no doubt has had a tempestuous last few weeks working in an industry that, on the whole, seems to be struggling to stay on track. GM has reportedly lost $8.2 billion on Cruise since 2017, and with these latest developments, the tapestry of Cruise’s future looks grim.
Nonetheless, Kan also put a positive spin on his departure, writing in a message to employees that the 10,000 rides Cruise cars were giving to customers would be achieved “again soon.” Other than that, Kan has yet to express the reasons for his leaving.
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