The Top 25: Jon Lauckner, General Motors

As chief technology officer, vice-president of research and development of carmaker General Motors (GM) and president of its corporate venturing arm GM Ventures, Jon Lauckner has pledged to drive innovative autotech development for the entire company.

GM chairman and chief executive Mary Barra attested to Lauckner’s capability to bring innovation forward through GM Ventures: “Under Jon Lauckner’s leadership and vision, the GM Ventures team operates with an entrepreneurial spirit and clear direction to focus on technologies that matter most for our customers. The strategic investments GM Ventures is making in breakthrough technologies are helping us build the most valued automotive company.”

Since its launch in mid-2010, GM Ventures has invested in 116 deals with 219 co-investors in series A to F rounds across different geographic areas – the US, Canada, Europe, Israel and China – and in six sectors – advanced propulsion; connected vehicle; advanced materials; sensors, processors and memory; manufacturing technology; and value chain and business model.

It has had 13 exits, the latest of which was an M&A deal conducted by digital mapping developer Dynamic Map Platform which acquired mapping technology startup Ushr for an undisclosed amount in February this year.

Other acquired portfolio companies include:

  • US-based secure digital identity management platform provider KeyFactor by VC firm Infinity Venture Partners
  • US-based web-based touch-centric applications software and cloud services provider Strobe by GM.
  • Germany-based ridesharing platform Flinc by automotive manufacturer Daimler.
  • US-based chemical producer Sirrus by chemical supplier Nippon Shokubai.
  • US-based iris recognition technology producer Delta ID by identity verification technology provider Fingerprint Cards.
  • Canada-based deep learning technology developer Maluuba by software provider Microsoft.
  • Germany-based automotive software producer OpenSynergy by consumer electronics manufacturer Panasonic.
  • US-based location intelligence platform Telogis by telecoms company Verizon.
  • US-based solid-state battery technology developer Sakti3 by UK-based cleaning and climate management equipment manufacturer Dyson.
  • US-based developer of lithium-ion batteries Envia Systems by an undisclosed investor.
  • US-based biofuel producer Mascoma by cellulosic ethanol developer Enchi.

For the portfolio companies, GM also acts as a customer that offers technology support with the company’s resources. Lauckner said: “If we decide to invest in a startup, it is an indication there is a significant probability that we will use the company’s technology.”

For example, Tula Technology provides a variable cylinder deactivation software to select GM vehicles to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 15% without degrading power capability, combining Tula’s software expertise with GM’s propulsion system expertise.

Other portfolio companies that have partnerships with different GM business units include:

  • Canada-based autonomous vision technology developer Algolux.
  • US-based solar energy systems provider Empower Energies.
  • US-based geospatial information management platform provider GeoDigital.
  • US-based location services provider MapAnything.
  • US-based high-strength steel maker NanoSteel.
  • US-based autonomous driving technology developer Nauto.
  • Israel-based wireless charging pad maker Powermat.
  • US-based battery-powered electric buses maker Proterra.
  • US-based wireless sensors developer Savari.
  • US-based metal printer developer Seurat Technologies.
  • US-based lithium-metal battery technology developer SolidEnergy Systems.
  • China-based car sharing platform operator Feezu (Weizuche).
  • US-based on-demand car servicing provider Yoshi.
  • Tula, Ushr and 11 other undisclosed portfolio companies.

Lauckner began his career with GM in 1979, working in several assignments in powertrain and vehicle engineering. Later, he worked in the marketing and product planning staff. From 1992 to 2005, he pursued various product development assignments in South America and Europe, and he returned to the US in mid-2005 to a new position as vice-president of global program management.

In 2009, he was named vice-president of global product planning, before finally forming GM’s CVC subsidiary in the following year and was appointed to president of GM Ventures.

As an active participant in the global VC and CVC communities, Lauckner has taken part in the Michigan Venture Capital Association, the National Venture Capital Association’s Corporate Venture Advisory Group, GCV Leadership Society and various conferences including Intel Capital’s Global Summit in 2018 and GCVI Summit in 2019.

Lauckner holds a BSc in mechanical engineering from University of Michigan. He earned a master’s in management from Stanford Business School in 1990 through the Sloan fellowship program and attended the GM-Harvard senior executive program in 2001.