The One with the Midas Touch
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 Justin.tv, 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.