technology

GM’s Cruise CTO Departs, Citing Disagreements With CEO Vogt

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Cruise Automation, the self-driving arm of General Motors Co., said Chief Technology Officer A.G. Gangadhar is departing after less than half a year.

In an email, Gangadhar cited disagreements with Cruise Chief Executive Officer Kyle Vogt as the reason for leaving. But 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.

The GM unit hired Gangadhar in September from Uber, where he served as an engineering executive and was the subject of criticism from female employees about Uber’s office culture. Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer who penned a widely read blog post about sexism-related issues at the company, described GM’s hiring of Gangadhar at the time as “troubling.”

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.”

Cruise’s rate of hiring women in leadership and operations rose during the time Gangadhar worked there, said a person familiar with the matter.

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.

Other women have expressed concerns about being recruited to work under Gangadhar, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel issues.

Gangadhar said he now plans to spend his time advising and investing in startups. “This gives me the freedom to get back to what I’m passionate about: scaling teams and technologies and positioning them for success,” he wrote.

(Updates with Gangadhar statement in the second paragraph.)
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