Kyle Vogt, co-founder and driving force behind Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company, has tendered his resignation alongside fellow co-founder Dan Kan, marking a significant shift in the company's leadership. TechCrunch obtained emails confirming their departure.
Mary Barra, Chair and CEO of GM, Cruise's parent company, revealed in an internal email shared with TechCrunch that Mo Elshenawy, currently the executive VP of engineering at Cruise, will assume the roles of president and CTO. Craig Glidden, a Cruise board member and GM's EVP of legal and policy, will continue as chief administrative officer. Jon McNeill, also a GM board member and former COO at Lyft and president of Tesla, has been appointed vice chairman of the Cruise board, aligning with Mary Barra.
The reshuffle follows a tumultuous period sparked by an incident on October 2 where a pedestrian was involved in an accident with a Cruise robotaxi, leading to the California DMV suspending Cruise's permits to operate self-driving vehicles on public roads. The incident stirred controversy as Cruise reportedly withheld crucial video footage from the DMV.
In his email to employees, Vogt expressed gratitude for the journey over the past decade, acknowledging the team's achievements in providing over 250,000 driverless rides across multiple cities. Despite his departure, he conveyed confidence in the team's abilities and expressed eagerness for Cruise's next chapter.
Barra's email commended Vogt's vision and dedication while affirming Cruise's commitment to its mission and transformative technology, focusing on making transportation safer, cleaner, and more accessible.
Since the October incident, employee morale at Cruise has plummeted, attributing blame to management's alleged disregard for safety priorities. The company's actions, including laying off contract workers and halting driverless fleets, have further exacerbated the situation.
Recent setbacks, including the suspension of an employee share-selling program, sparked employee discontent, with Vogt later retracting the decision and offering limited share-selling opportunities.
Vogt and Kan co-founded Cruise in 2013, initially focusing on retrofitting vehicles into self-driving cars before pivoting to a different business model. GM acquired Cruise in 2016 for over $1 billion in cash and stock. Vogt, known for co-founding Justin.tv, Twitch, and Socialcam, brings with him a legacy of successful entrepreneurial endeavors.