GM Cruise raises $1.15B at a $19B valuation from SoftBank and Honda

GM Cruise has raised another $1.15 billion in new equity from a group of investors that includes T. Rowe Price Associates, Honda, SoftBank Vision Fund and its parent company GM, as the self-driving vehicle company pushes to launch a commercial autonomous ride-hailing service this year.

This investment increases Cruise’s post-money valuation to $19 billion, inclusive of SoftBank’s previously announced investment commitment. Cruise has secured capital commitments totaling $7.25 billion in the past year, according to the company.

“Developing and deploying self-driving vehicles at massive scale is the engineering challenge of our generation,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. “Having deep resources to draw on as we pursue our mission is a critical competitive advantage.”

GM Cruise has one of the most aggressive timelines among companies hoping to deploy a commercial self-driving vehicle service. GM’s self-driving unit has stuck to its previously stated timeline to launch a commercial service “sometime in 2019.”

Cruise has grown from a small startup with 40 employees to more than 1,000 today at its San Francisco headquarters.

And Cruise isn’t curtailing that rate of growth; it’s accelerating it.

Cruise announced in November plans to expand to Seattle, in pursuit of more engineering talent to develop its technology. GM Cruise aimed to hire between 100 to 200 engineers by the end of 2019. The company, now led by Ammann, who left his post as president of GM to take the job, plans to hire at least 1,000 more engineers and other personnel by the end of the year. (Kyle Vogt, a Cruise co-founder who was CEO and also unofficially handled the chief technology officer position, is now president and CTO.)

Arden Hoffman, who helped scale Dropbox, left the file-sharing and storage company to head up human resources at Cruise and help the company scale quickly.

The GM subsidiary is expanding its office space in San Francisco to accommodate the growth. GM Cruise will keep its headquarters at 1201 Bryant Street in San Francisco. The company also will take over Dropbox headquarters at 333 Brannan Street some time this year, a move that will triple Cruise’s office space in San Francisco.

GM Cruise received a $2.25 billion investment by SoftBank’s vision fund in May 2018. That first SoftBank investment was cut into two parts, with the first tranche of $900 million made at the closing of the transaction. Once Cruise’s autonomous vehicles are ready for commercial deployment, SoftBank will complete the second investment of $1.35 billion, the companies said at the time.

A few months later, Honda committed $2.75 billion as part of an exclusive agreement with GM and Cruise to develop and produce a new kind of autonomous vehicle.

As part of that agreement, Honda will invest $2 billion into the effort over the next 12 years. At the time, Honda made an immediate and direct equity investment of $750 million into Cruise. Honda’s investment gives the automaker a 5.7% stake in Cruise.