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In The News: Keynote Speaker Dan Ammann

Detroit Has Valley Envy

From Bloomberg Businessweek

By Keith Naughton and David Welch

April 28, 2016

A traffic jam of Silicon Valley companies has a mission: to destroy Detroit’s business model and take over transportation with driverless cars and shared mobility services. Yet last summer, General Motors’ top brass ventured behind enemy lines to meet with the very forces trying to upend the industry. When the 15 executives returned to Detroit, they realized they needed to defend their turf not only by accelerating their own mobility programs—from ridesharing outfits to driverless-car software—but also by forming alliances with the challengers in the Valley.

By Thanksgiving, GM, which since 2000 had invested heavily in self-driving cars and rolling 4G hotspots, was in a hurry to find a partner to combine its in-house technology with a ride-hailing service. But Uber Technologies wasn’t interested in aligning with old-line manufacturers. So GM struck an agreement to invest $500 million in Lyft for a 9 percent stake in the No. 2 ride-hailing business. GM President Dan Ammann now sits on Lyft’s board. A few months later, GM dropped almost $1 billion for self-driving software maker Cruise Automation, one of the richest deals ever in the Valley. “It’s more than getting a window view,” Ammann says of the investment he contends is critical to GM’s future. “We want to make it clear that this is a significant strategic investment.”

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