The small San Francisco startup bought by General Motors in 2016 could generate a lot of money for the automaker in the near future.
According to sources who spoke to Bloomberg, GM wants to unlock the value of its self-driving Cruise Automation division (officially GM Cruise LLC) — a 50-person company valued at $600 million at the time of purchase. Japan’s SoftBank, which recently pledged a $2.25 billion investment in the division, now values Cruise at $11.5 billion.
To put that figure into context, GM’s market capitalization hovers around $50 billion. The word “Cruise” should be accompanied by an old-timey cash register sound.
According to Bloomberg‘s sources, there’s a number of options on the table for Cruise: a initial public offering of shares, the listing of a tracking stock to reflect the division’s value, or a spin-off (a la Ferrari’s departure from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).
After SoftBank’s vote of confidence, GM pledged another billion of its own dollars towards the division, which aims to offer an autonomous ride-hailing service next year. The Japanese bank’s investment hinges on meeting this timeline. Self-driving cars based on the Chevrolet Bolt (the “Cruise AV”) will utilize technology developed by the automaker’s self-driving arm to carry paying passengers, providing another revenue stream for GM.
Still, the massive growth in Cruise’s workforce and valuation means there’s money to be had in the division itself, should GM decide to allow the public a chance to grab a piece. This isn’t a plan that’s set in stone, however. Bloomberg reports that the automaker won’t make a decision until Cruise fleshes itself out a little, meaning a potential wait of two years or more.
[Image: General Motors]