The One with the Mi­das Touch

Industry Leaders - - Young Guns -

Cruise Au­to­ma­tion is Kyle Vogt’s sec­ond bil­lion dol­lar startup in two years. Ten years ago, when Dan Kan’s brother Justin Kan and Em­mett Shear sent an email to the MIT en­gi­neer­ing list­serv, re­quest­ing a “hard­ware hacker” for an un­spec­i­fied project, Kyle Vogt replied. Back then, Vogt was a shy stu­dent fas­ci­nated with ro­bot­ics and AI tech­nol­ogy. He went on to co-found, So­cial­cam, and Twitch. At Cruise, he took

three months to build it from scratch to a prototype, in­clud­ing the hard­ware and the soft­ware.

Vogt has achieved what few en­tre­pre­neur even dare to dream: the Mi­das touch. In 2014, Twitch was sold to Ama­zon for just und un­der $1 bil­lion. Cruise Au­to­ma­tion was sold to Gen­eral Mo­tor Mo­tors Co. for even more.

Vogt’sVogt’ long­stand­ing ob­ses­sion with ro­bot­ics earned him the ti­tle ‘Ro­bot Guru’. He was a part of the early self-driv­ing car ex­per­i­ments at MIT. He even in­terned at Roomba-maker irobotirob and fin­ished two sea­sons of Bat­tle­bots.

He has also dis­played an ap­ti­tude for poach­ing tal­ent. At Cr Cruise Au­to­ma­tion, he hired An­drew Gray, an early mem­ber o of Tesla’s au­topi­lot team, as its VP.

It’sI tough to imag­ine Vogt, who has spent his ca­reer buzzing from one bil­lion dol­lar startup to an­other, will stay at the 99-year-old Detroit-based car maker. Yet, peo­ple who are close to him in­sist that he is ded­i­cated to stay­ing at the com­pany.

In 2018, thou­sands of self-driv­ing Chevro­let Bolt hatch­backs will go into ser­vice for the ride-hail­ing com­pany Lyft. All elec­tric-bolts are equipped with a 360-de­gree vision sys­tem com­prised of laser LIDAR, cam­eras and radar, soft­ware and n OS de­vel­oped by Cruise as well as a cloud-con­nected com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem.

Kind of crazy how two early thirty-some­thing pro­gram­mers in t-shirts have cre­ated bil­lion-dol­lar busi­nesses, and don’t show any signs of stop­ping. They’re wicked, smart and am­bi­tious en­trepreneurs who can more than just code. It’d be wrong to call them Sil­i­con Val­ley dis­rup­tors when in fact, they con­trib­ute to the world on a much larger scale.

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