20VC: Cruise’s Daniel Kan on Lessons From Scaling The Team From 40 To 1,500 People, How Daniel Thinks About Continuous Learning & Self-Development and Why CEOs Hiring Themselves Out Of Roles Is Wrong
Posted on 16th August 2019 by Harry
Daniel Kan is the Chief Product Officer @ Cruise, the company building cutting-edge hardware and software that work seamlessly together to transform the way we all experience transportation. In 2016, Cruise was acquired by GM for a reported $1Bn. Since the acquisition Cruise has raised $7.25 billion in committed capital and has attracted SoftBank, Honda, and T. Rowe Price as investors. As for Daniel, he started his career at a startup called UserVoice. He then founded Exec, an on-demand hospitality service company, and successfully sold Exec to Handy. As a result of his many success, Daniel was listed as number 7 on Fortune’s 2016 40 under 40 list for the most influential people in business.
1.) How Daniel made his way into the world of startups and came to co-found the game-changing company of the next movement mega wave of transport innovation in Cruise?
2.) What have been Daniel’s biggest lessons on what works for leaders in scaling themselves? How can a leader ensure their team feel real ownership and accountability for their roles? How does Daniel think about KPI and goal-setting? How does Daniel look to strike the balance between ambitious but achievable goals and then unrealistic?
3.) How does Daniel think about micro-management? Is there ever a time for it? What are the leading indicators you or someone on the team is micro-managing? What can they do to correct it? What are the dangers of micro-management? How does Daniel think about assessing human potential in terms of a stretch VP and a stretch too far?
4.) Why does Daniel believe that “if you are not growing, you are dying”? What has been transformational to Daniel in increasing his own level of self-development and learning? How does the organisation need to be set up to ingest these learnings in real-time and improve? Where do many go wrong when it comes to mistakes and learnings?
5.) At acquisition, Cruise had just 40 team members, today the team consists of 1,460. What have been some of Daniel’s biggest lessons in the process of scaling the team with such rapidity? What have been some of the core challenges? How has Daniel’s style of leadership had to change and evolve with the growth?