clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A top executive at GM’s self-driving car company Cruise is out after six months

Susan Fowler, who worked under AG Gangadhar while at Uber, criticized the hire at the time.

A Cruise self-driving car General Motors

The chief technology officer of GM’s self-driving car company Cruise has left the company after only six months.

AG Gangadhar, a former Uber engineer who was recruited in September 2017 to help lead GM’s efforts in self-driving technology, departed the automobile manufacturer last week.

Gangadhar’s hiring at GM came as a shock to former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, who criticized his appointment at the time. Fowler had worked under Gangadhar while the two were at Uber, and cited his mismanagement of her issues at the company in a personal post about her time at Uber.

“After serious consideration, Cruise and AG have elected to part ways,” Ray Wert, a spokesman for Cruise, told Recode. “We wish him the best in all future endeavors.”

Cruise declined to say whether Gangadhar’s departure had anything to do with Fowler or other former Uber engineers’ criticism of his hiring.

“The hire is troubling, and is proof that Silicon Valley still has a very, very long way to go before it can claim it takes culture problems seriously,” Fowler told Recode in November 2017.

Bloomberg first reported his departure.

Fowler detailed her complaints about Uber management in her essay and referenced Gangadhar — though not by name.

Several sources said this part of her blog is referring to Gangadhar, who is the “director” named:

“According to my manager, his manager, and the director, my transfer was being blocked because I had undocumented performance problems. I pointed out that I had a perfect performance score, and that there had never been any complaints about my performance. I had completed all OKRs on schedule, never missed a deadline even in the insane organizational chaos, and that I had managers waiting for me to join their team. I asked what my performance problem was, and they didn’t give me an answer.”

In the wake of his hiring, Ana Medina, another former engineer who also worked in the same department as Fowler, tweeted that she would not consider working at Cruise under Gangadhar. Separately, Medina and other plaintiffs reached a $10 million settlement agreement with Uber yesterday over allegations that the company had discriminatory compensation practices.

Medina and other engineers voiced their concern over the mismanagement of Fowler’s complaints of harassment and sexism at the company in emails obtained by Recode. Gangadhar was attached to some of those emails.

One specific email shows engineers within the department expressing concern over his mismanagement of Fowler’s grievances to Uber’s senior management.

Gangadhar, who had previously worked at Google, left Uber in July 2017 after two years. Uber said at the time that his departure had nothing to do with Fowler’s essay. The company further emphasized that all the claims in her post were thoroughly investigated and that it had taken every recommended action.

Update: Gangadhar said he left GM because he and Kyle had “differing visions.”

Since I left Uber, I’ve been trying to move on from this story especially since I was cleared of any wrongdoing when others were not. Over the last 6 months I built the engineering executive team at Cruise bringing in 3 top VPs from companies such as Amazon, Hyperloop etc. One of the VP’s is a seasoned woman executive. In this competitive time of autonomous vehicles, this is no small feat. I left Cruise on good terms and only because Kyle and I had differing visions for the direction of the engineering team. Looking forward I plan to spend my time advising and investing in early stage technology companies, which is very exciting to me. This gives me the freedom to get back to what I’m passionate about; scaling teams and technologies and positioning them for success. The culture at Uber is one that I would like to put behind me, but not forget as it will forever influence the professional and personal decisions I make on a daily basis.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.