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CTO of GM Owned Cruise Automation Abruptly Leaves the Company

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【Summary】Cruise Automation, the company supplying General Motors with its self-driving technology is losing its Chief Technology Officer A.G. Gangadhar, who has worked for less than a year at the company.

Eric Walz    Mar 29, 2018 12:08 PM PT
CTO of GM Owned Cruise Automation Abruptly Leaves the Company

SAN FRANCISCO — Cruise Automation, the company supplying General Motors with its self-driving technology, is losing its Chief Technology Officer A.G. Gangadhar, who has worked for less than a year at the company.

In an email, Gangadhar cited disagreements with Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt as the reason for leaving. However his short tenure was also dogged by public complaints about his role in allegedly fostering a work environment that was inhospitable to women when he worked at Uber Technologies Inc.

A.G. Gangadhar has been hired as chief technology officer at Cruise, the self-driving startup which GM purchased last year for $1 billion in order to bolster its autonomous driving technology. Cruise hopes to have its first driverless cars on the roads in 2019 and is currently testing its autonomous fleet of Chevy Bolts on the streets of San Francisco.

Gangadhar, the former head of Uber's infrastructure engineering department and was previously linked to claims that Uber failed to react to complaints of sexual harassment.

Susan Fowler, the former Uber employee at the company wrote a viral blog post in February 2017 alleging that Uber had ignored her harassment complaints. At Uber, she worked in Gangadhar's department. Although she did not refer to Gangadhar by name.

Cruise hired Gangadhar in September from Uber amid some controversy linked to his tenure at Uber, where he served as an engineering executive and was the subject of criticism from female employees about Uber's office culture.

Cruise and Gangadhar mutually decided he would leave, said Ray Wert, a spokesman for Cruise. "We wish him the best in all future endeavors," Wert wrote in an emailed statement.

Gangadhar said he had been cleared of any wrongdoing at Uber and that he helped Cruise recruit "a seasoned woman executive" and two other vice presidents during his time there. "In this competitive time of autonomous vehicles, this is no small feat," he wrote. "I left Cruise on good terms and only because Kyle and I had differing visions for the direction of the engineering team."

Fowler wrote a widely read blog post about sexism-related issues at the company and described GM's hiring of Gangadhar at the time as "troubling." The harassment she exposed at Uber added to Uber's ongoing controversies, which eventually led to the ousting of co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO of Uber.

But the departure comes after rebukes of Cruise from female engineers who had worked under Gangadhar at Uber. Ana Medina, an Uber engineer, wrote on Twitter this month that she was surprised she was "getting recruited to work under the management of the same male that allowed for the toxic environment during my first year at Uber." She included a screenshot of the Cruise recruiter's email.


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