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Presto & Cruise Cut, Stellar Pizza Raises
Plus, more drone delivery news
Ahh, it’s a big week for food — don’t you wish you had a robot to prepare Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast for you? We’ve got some big shake ups in the automation space, read on!
Presto Automation Cuts Back
It’s been a tough few days over at Presto Automation, with the San Carlos, CA-based company’s stock languishing in delisting territory, after losing $8.8M in the last quarter. While the company came to market in 2012 with a front-of-house POS system, it’s been more recently known for a voice and computer vision AI system meant to automate drive-thru ordering. With adoption going slowly, the company has opted to cut 17% of its workforce, roughly two dozen employees. Presto also sold a stake in the company to a syndicate of investors organized by Remus Capital, raising about $7M in the process.
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Cruise Heads to Dubai, Sans Kyle Vogt
After the CPUC yanked their vehicles off the street, staffers at AV and delivery giant Cruise have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Looks like there were actually multiple shoes… first the company suspended its employee stock program, costing some longtime staffers as much as $100k. Then over the weekend, Co-Founders Kyle Vogt and Dan Kan resigned; Vogt shared the following with staffers:
I have resigned from my position as CEO of Cruise.
The last 10 years have been amazing, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped Cruise along the way. The startup I launched in my garage has given over 250,000 driverless rides across several cities, with each ride inspiring people with a small taste of the future.
Cruise is still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead. You all are brilliant, driven and resilient. I’m deeply saddened I won’t be working next to you anymore. However, I know you’re executing against a very strong, multi-year technology roadmap and exciting product vision, and I’m thrilled to see what Cruise has in store in its next chapter!
Cruisers, you’ve got this! Regardless of what originally brought you to work on AVs, remember why this work matters. The status quo on our roads sucks, but together we’ve proven there is something far better around the corner.
Despite the executive turmoil and regulatory issues in the U.S., Cruise is still pushing ahead internationally. The company is continuing to test its vehicles in Dubai, as well as in Japan, where it’s partnered with Honda. (And in case you missed it, one other high-profile AI company had some serious leadership changes over the weekend…)
Stellar Turns to Crowdfunding
Robotic pizza truck Stellar Pizza is the latest foodtech upstart to head to WeFunder. As of Monday afternoon, the company had raised over $156K of a $500,000 goal. The fundraising structure puts the company at a $32 million valuation. The company has previously raised about $25 million, making the economics of this current round look a bit difficult. Check out CEO Benson Tsai sharing his insights from this past March’s Curbivore 2023 gathering, below:
In Other News
Drone Delivery Canada completes first U.S. pilot, in West Michigan, using Airspace Link’s AirHub platform. DroneUp expands partnership with Chick-fil-A to cover Florida. How restaurateurs are prepping for CA’s minimum wage increase. Automat innovator Brooklyn Dumpling Shop opens voice-powered drive-thru. Nidec debuts Smart-FLEXWAVE: precision gear reducer with built-in sensors. Drone delivery explainer: Part 135 vs BVLOS.
OttOmate is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.