Cruise Co-Founder Reappointed as CEO After Surprise Departure

Cruise Automation COO Dan Kahn (left to right), Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt and General Motors President Dan Ammann, Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at the Cruise Automation office in San Francisco, California.

Source: Noah Berger | General Motors

By appointing a new CEO for self-driving car company Cruise Monday, the majority owner of General Motors is returning the firm to one of its original founders.

Kyle Vogt, who co-founded Cruise and led the startup for years after the GM acquisition in 2016, has been re-appointed as the company’s CEO. He announced the appointment on Monday via social media and was later confirmed by a spokesman for Cruz.

Vogt will replace Dan Ammann, a former GM president who was unexpectedly fired from Cruise in December. It is reported that Ammann get away from Cruz GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra, who also chairs Cruise’s board of directors, over differences in strategy, including when to go public.

“Cruise and GM, we are now truly in full agreement on accelerating the joint autonomous vehicle strategy that we laid out at our recent investor day,” GM president Mark Reuss told CNBC the day after Ammann left the company.

The return of Vogt, who was already acting CEO, comes at a pivotal moment for the company.

Cruise is in the process of getting final approval to commercialize autonomous vehicles after several years of testing in San Francisco. The company is also expanding its operations, and the company plans to generate billions of dollars in revenue this decade.

“Kyle certainly knows the company…I hope that during Ammann’s tenure he had the opportunity to work closely with him and learn more about running a company of this size,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “If GM was willing to give him the CEO job back permanently, they apparently thought he had learned enough in the past few years that he could now handle the job.”

Since its acquisition of Cruise, GM has invested billions in operations and attracted investors including Honda Motor, Softbank Vision Fund, and most recently Walmart and Microsoft.

Vogt will retain his former positions as chief technology officer and president of the company.

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