Self-driving startup Cruise hires Edelman Western president Kristine Boyden

Boyden will join the startup with a team of 10, reporting to its CEO.

SAN FRANCISCO: Self-driving startup Cruise has hired Kristine Boyden, president of Edelman’s Western region, as its first chief communications officer.

Boyden is set to start in the newly created role at the end of February, reporting to CEO Dan Ammann. She will initially have a team of about 10. 

Ray Wert, interim head of communications at Cruise, said the company spent about a year searching for a chief communications officer.

"Her focus will be on telling our story and how this isn’t about winning the tech race, it’s about winning the trust race," he said. "If consumers don’t trust us, they will never use self-driving technology."

Wert said Boyden’s work on the Edelman Trust Barometer and her efforts growing the agency’s presence on the West Coast prompted the hire.

"She’s spent the last 18 years being a student of the dynamics of trust as well as the dynamics of the tech sector and running a practice," he said. "We looked at a lot of people at extremely high levels, including multiple people on the PRWeek Power List, and that we talked to officially and unofficially."

"[Boyden] doesn’t get the credit she deserves," Wert added. "She took the Western region from being zero to hero and that's impressive."

Boyden will help Cruise with a major announcement it is planning to make this month, Wert added. 

Cruise was founded in 2013 in San Francisco and was acquired by General Motors three years later. It also has a partnership with Honda. Cruise has offices in greater Seattle, Phoenix and Pasadena, California, and claims to be the only self-driving car business that can manufacture vehicles at a commercial scale. 

Boyden had been president of the U.S. Western region at Edelman since January 2016, the last in a series of increasingly senior roles at the agency including GM of San Francisco.

Russell Dubner, CEO of Edelman U.S., confirmed via email that Boyden is planning to depart Edelman this month. 

"She’s made a lasting impact over her almost 19 years at Edelman, and we thank her for those years of service to our clients, our people and the firm," he said. "We wish her nothing but the best in her next endeavor."

Sanjay Nair, global technology sector chair, will take over as interim president of Edelman’s Western region.

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