GM’s president is leaving Detroit to run its self driving-car biz

General Motors has given itself a deadline of 2019 to roll out a self-driving car service, a feat it would achieve though Cruise, a startup it acquired in 2016. And now Cruise has a new CEO in Dan Ammann, who is leaving his role as president of GM to take the full-time position. Founder Kyle Vogt will become the company’s CTO, effective January 1.

In the tech world, this is a common move, because founders are not always the best suited to take their companies from startups to behemoths. And while Cruise has offered no details yet on where, when, or how its commercial robo-car service will work, it has grown quickly in the past two years, from 40 to more than 1,000 employees. That kind of rapid scale requires a specialized skill set.

GM acquired Cruise in 2016 for a reported $1 billion, three years after Vogt started it with Dan Kan. (Since the acquisition, Cruise has maintained most of its independence, remaining in San Francisco and taking investments from Softbank and Honda to help fund its efforts.) The startup’s original goal was to make an aftermarket highway autonomy system, similar to Tesla’s Autopilot or Cadillac’s Super Cruise. The company announced a $10,000 retrofit kit in 2014, but then ditched the idea to focus on a fully autonomous system, the sort that never requires human intervention. As GM recognized the swiftly shifting automotive future—and as Google began proving self-driving tech was a real thing—the automotive giant scooped up Cruise to accelerate its R&D.

Source: Automotive News