Cruise car in Hayes Valley, San Francisco

Cruise names two new executives amidst efforts to re-launch self-driving

Credit: Cruise

The board of General Motors’ (GM’s) self-driving unit Cruise has officially appointed its next CEO, following a major shakeup that ensued in the wake of an October accident with one of the company’s robotaxis.

On Tuesday, Cruise shared a press release announcing that former Xbox team founder and Amazon services executive Marc Whitten has been appointed as the company’s new CEO. Whitten will fill the new role starting on July 16, and will serve alongside standing President and CEO Mo Elshenawy.

“In a few years, transportation will be fundamentally safer and more accessible than it is today, creating much more value for individuals and communities around the world. It is an opportunity of a lifetime to be part of this transformation,” Whitten said in the press release. “The team at Cruise has built world-class technology, and I look forward to working with them to help bring this critical mission to life.”

Whitten helped launch Xbox and Xbox Live, along with scaling the platforms, before going on to serve as Chief Product Officer at Sonos, VP of Entertainment Devices and Services at Amazon, and President of Unity Create.

Following the announcement, he wrote in a post on LinkedIn that accepting the Cruise position had been the “easiest ‘yes’ in his career,” adding that he was “inspired by its deep and meaningful mission and world-class technology.”

Whitten will also be joined by the company’s newly hired Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, Nick Mulholland, who has served as the VP of Global Communications of Rivian for the past few years.

“My core belief is that this technology and Cruise’s dedication to its mission will change the world. Achieving such a bold vision will require a deep and meaningful collaboration with the communities we serve,” Mulholland said in the press release. “It is an incredible opportunity to play a role in building these vital connections.”

The news comes as GM attempts to re-launch Cruise’s self-driving services, after one of the company’s driverless vehicles hit, dragged, and pinned a pedestrian in San Francisco in October, after the person had already been hit by another car with a human behind the wheel.

After the accident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoked the company’s permit to operate self-driving vehicles, followed by a series of layoffs and departures.

Cruise co-founder and former CEO Kyle Vogt resigned from his position on November 19, and fellow co-founder and former Chief Product Officer Daniel Kan resigned the following day. In December, the company announced a staff reduction of around 24 percent of its workers.

GM also announced plans to cut spending on Cruise in half this year while it tries to regain public trust and relaunch the service.

“At Cruise, we are committed to earning back the trust of regulators and the public through our commitments and our actions,” GM CEO Mary Barra wrote in a shareholder letter in April.

Cruise began testing again with human drivers last month, though the tests are currently limited to Phoenix, Arizona. Alongside the announcement, Cruise said it also planned to gradually expand to a handful of the surrounding suburbs.

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Cruise names two new executives amidst efforts to re-launch self-driving
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