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Cruise layoffs: Safety probe leads to extensive staff cuts

Cruise revises strategy amidst autonomous driving challenges
Cruise revises strategy amidst autonomous driving challenges

The autonomous vehicle (AV) industry is undergoing a massive upheaval as Cruise navigates leadership changes, safety probes, and workforce reductions. In the latest developments, several high-ranking executives have left the company. 

The departure of nine senior managers was announced via an internal Slack update and later confirmed by Cruise spokesperson Erik Moser.

Turmoil at Cruise

The recent incident involving a Cruise AV and human-driven vehicle was cited as a reason for the departures. 

The company said: “Following an initial analysis of the October 2 incident and Cruise’s response to it, nine individuals departed [from] Cruise. These include key leaders from legal, government affairs, and commercial operations, as well as safety and systems.”

Cruise layoffs

Axios confirmed the departing staff include chief operating officer Gil West, head of government affairs David Estrada, and chief legal counsel Jeffrey Bleich. In November, co-founders Kyle Vogt and Daniel Kan also resigned

In addition, Sarah Locke-Henderson, head of community engagement at Cruise, says on LinkedIn a number of her teammates were impacted by the layoffs. 

She adds: “These goodbyes were particularly hard, because they are true bar raisers. The folks impacted are some of the highest caliber talent out there, and any company would be so very lucky to snag them.”

Meanwhile, senior PLM integration analyst, Victor Morocho, said the layoffs affected nearly one out of four employees: “These are highly talented individuals from Operations, Product, Software, AI, ML, HW, Electrical, Mechanical, Test, Quality, Manufacturing Engineering, and Project Management.”

Impact on operations

As reported by TechCrunch, Cruise is cutting 24% of its workforce – approximately 900 employees of a 3,800 workforce. The news outlet reports: “The layoffs are part of a plan to slash costs and attempt to revamp the company.”

A company-wide email was sent by current president, Mo Elshenawy to Cruise employees. Elshenawy reportedly wrote: “We knew this day was coming, but that does not make it any less difficult – especially for those whose jobs are affected.”

ALSO READ: Waymo thrives in AV race, leaving Cruise in the rearview mirror

Employees were told they would learn their fate later this week. An update had not been issued at the time of publishing. 

Employee morale

The morale within Cruise has understandably taken a hit and cast a shadow over the company’s future. 

Some employees feel the tumultuous situation is largely due to poor management and a lack of focus on safety. This was compounded when San Francisco revoked commercial permits, leading to the first round of layoffs in November.

The first positions to get the cut were employees in charge of cleaning and maintaining the AVs, as well as staff from the customer service department. 

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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