GM Makes Hard Cuts at Cruise

Dana Hull and Ed Ludlow have the details on Cruise’s recent layoffs over at Bloomberg:

In a notice to mayors and other California government officials dated May 15, Cruise disclosed that 165 employees would be permanently laid off. Of those workers, 40% had the words engineer or engineering in their job title.


That’s about 66 engineers who lost their jobs. Rough. To give you some context, the entire Tesla Autopilot engineering team is around that many people.

In its layoff notice, Cruise said it will permanently cease operations at a facility in Pasadena, California, and permanently downsize operations at its San Francisco headquarters and two other offices in the city.

Cruise had an engineering team in Pasadena working on lidar, a sensor technology that sends laser light pulses to detect surrounding objects. When it acquired a Pasadena-based lidar company called Strobe in October 2017, Cruise said it expected a 99% reduction in cost of the hardware.


Wow, right after they successfully reduced the cost of LIDAR by 99% they all get fired! How weird!

By the way, a 99% cost reduction is not enough. It sounds like a big reduction, but that’s only because LIDAR sensors were absurdly expensive to start with.

Using a base price of $75,000 1% is still $750. Add in overhead and installation costs and it’s at least around $1000. Most modern self-driving cars taking the spatial approach has 8 – 12 LIDAR sensors on the vehicle. So that’s at least $8,000 – $12,000 just for the LIDAR sensors never mind the extra compute and battery power needed to support them. After that, you better pray none of the sensors get hit by a rock or something that falls off a truck.

(Also, if they had achieved the promised 99% cost reduction I doubt they would have gotten fired.)

The Cruise board last year set up an incentive package for Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann that pays out millions if he arranges a sale or initial public offering. On Tuesday, the company announced that Regina Dugan, the former head of Facebook Inc.’s secretive Building 8 lab, joined the board as a director in December 2019.


Why on earth would GM want to sell equity in their self-driving company that’s about to change the world? Are they trying to say they don’t believe they have the capital to fund the effort to completion themselves?

Read the full story at Bloomberg

Join 266.2K other subscribers

Leave a Reply