Microsoft’s Investment in Cruise Brings it Into the Self-Driving Car Game

One of the pitches that has worked well for Microsoft in the past is that it’s not a company competing with its own customers. Meaning, Walmart and Kroger should use Azure, not AWS, because they are not Amazon which makes today’s announcement that the company is investing in Cruise, slightly more interesting from a business perspective.

The news, announced today by Cruise and Microsoft, is that the Redmond-based company is contributing to an investment round into Cruise, which values the company at $30 billion post-money. The round of investment, which totals a $2 billion dollar injection into Cruise, was also backed by GM and Honda, makes Microsoft the preferred cloud solution for Cruise.

What this means is that all of the backend infrastructures will be hosted by Microsoft and they will also provide technical support for building out the infrastructure that will host Cruise’s technology stack.

For Microsoft, this is a big play to try and capitalize upon a company, that if successful, could be a significant component of the next industry-shift in the automotive segment to self-driving vehicles. If this company is successful, the data and infrastructure needs of these vehicles will be substantial which is why Microsoft is likely making the investment.

Microsoft is no stranger to the automotive segment and has worked with companies like Toyota and others to build out connected cars. But with its Cruise investment, I’ll be curious to see if this impacts other self-driving car startups from choosing Azure for their platform. That being said, Amazon and Google have self-driving car initiatives along with Microsoft, so the options are limited when it comes to choosing a cloud that isn’t offering a competing service.

Also announced with this investment is that GM is going to work with Microsoft as its preferred public cloud too.