GM completes Cruise Automation acquisition

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Friday it has completed the acquisition of Cruise Automation, the San Francisco-based software company that it hopes will help quicken its development of autonomous vehicle technology.

The Detroit automaker, in a short statement, said it was pleased the closing had occurred and said more details would be disclosed with the automaker’s second-quarter business results. Those are expected to be released in mid to late July.

GM announced in March plans to buy the startup Silicon Valley company, founded in 2013. Cruise Automation will operate independently within GM’s new autonomous vehicle development team and will remain based in San Francisco.

The firm had about 40 employees in March. Cruise Automation currently lists more than 20 job openings on its website, mostly for various engineering positions. Job perks include catered lunches and snacks and free rides in self-driving cars, according to job postings. The Cruise Automation website has little information, but has says “Cruise + General Motors Join the Driverless Revolution.”

GM spokesman Kevin Kelly on Friday said the positions are active.

“We are planning on growing that team,” Kelly said Friday, though he said GM has not said how many people it hopes ultimately to have in California.

When it announced the acquisition, Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, said Cruise gives GM “a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry” and that it intended to significantly grow Cruise’s talent base.

Cruise Automation is licensed in California to test autonomous vehicles on public roadways, which GM is acquiring as part of the deal.

GM has not released how much it is spending on the acquisition, but reports have put it around $1 billion.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, in the company’s first quarter earnings call with analysts, was questioned by analysts on the reported cost of the acquisition when Cruise had previously been valued at much less.

“The expertise and the work that’s already been done by Cruise, we saw as something that would really accelerate our ability to lead from an autonomous perspective,” she said.

In April, Cruise Automation filed a lawsuit to stop a former business partner it claims unjustly was trying to cash in on the acquisition. Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, in a lawsuit filed with a San Francisco court, is seeking a court judgment that Jeremy Guillory, a person he consulted with in the early stages of founding the company, doesn’t have any ownership in the company. Guillory, in a cross-complaint, said he agreed in writing to be a 50-50 partner in the company.

GM declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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