On Cruise, the hard things the hard way

This morning General Motors announced it is acquiring Cruise for over $1b. I’m incredibly grateful to Kyle and the team at Cruise for the opportunity to work together, and I’m as excited about the future of Cruise as ever.

The first time I met Kyle we took a test drive in the early prototype of their self-driving car, at the time a version that was limited to only Audi’s and just for highway driving. It was an impressive prototype even if it was clearly far from ready. Then, just a few months later, he emailed to say he’d gotten the RP-1 highway autopilot fully working, only he was killing it. Oh, and he had something new to show me, I should come by.

That next meeting of course was what caused Spark to lead the Series A in Cruise and to me joining the board, but I’ve thought about the moment often. What does it take to pitch a product, produce an awesome video, talk to press, raise a seed round, get the hardware and software 95% of the way through development — only to kill it because you know there’s something better on the horizon?

In the case of Kyle and his co-founder Daniel Kan, it’s because they are what Peter Thiel would call determinate optimists. They knew they wanted to be the people to bring self driving cars to the world. Everything in between, no matter how sacred, should be questioned in the pursuit of that goal. It was a difficult decision to set that product aside, and it was the right one.

Since then the progress that Kyle, Dan, and his team have made over the last year is utterly phenomenal. It was no surprise to me that once GM got a chance to see what was going on, they knew that the team at Cruise was the one to support no matter what that meant.

I know people are going to write about the major investment that this is for GM, and the big win it represents for the founders, employees, investors, all that stuff. But for me the real story is that this team, from their first prototype up until this last week of negotiations with GM, has stayed focused on making sure each step was getting the stars to align for them to bring self driving cars to the world. They have a singular goal, to be the first and best providers of self driving vehicles, and they just got a step closer.



Spark Capital invests in products we love by creators we admire across all sectors and stages.

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Nabeel Hyatt

partner at Spark Capital, former CEO, full-time geek, investing time and $ at the fringes. http://nabeelhyatt.com