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Ford tops up Pivotal's $253m cash slurp, parks CIO on its board

Auto maker pumps $182.2m into PaaS firm

Ford is pumping a hefty $182.2m into platform-as-a-service spinner Pivotal as part of a key strategic stake.

The car company announced the investment in the three-year-old EMC spin-out, adding that its chief information officer, Marcy Klevorn, is also joining Pivotal’s board.

Ford is the lead investor in a funding round that totalled $253m. Cash also came from Microsoft and GE in addition to its parent companies, EMC and VMware.

It’s rare for actual users of Silicon Valley tech to invest in their suppliers. Investor cash typically hails from the venture community and other tech firms.

It's also uncommon for a customer such as Ford to puts its own CIO onto such a supplier’s board.

Ford has previously partnered with Pivotal on FordPass, an app that aims to "do for car owners what iTunes did for music fans." FordPass helps mobility services by helping members find and pay for parking by speaking to “FordGuides”. It apparently liked what it saw.

The car manufacturer now plans to ramp up its use of Pivotal in its software development, as a platform delivering services and also in serving features to customers in their cars – and to the vehicles themselves.

Ford plans to open new software platforms in the US and Europe comprised of software architects, engineers and user experience experts, all using Pivotal’s cloud development methodology.

Klevorn said in a statement: “We plan to quickly add new state-of-the-art software engineering capabilities across the Ford enterprise.”

The plan is to “expand the use of advanced software development methodologies, analytics tools and a cloud platform throughout Ford’s Product Development and IT teams, including new software labs to support Ford Smart Mobility.”

The partnership will drive the Ford Smart Mobility project which focuses on connectivity, mobility and autonomous – or, driverless - vehicles.

Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, said in a statement that its stake in Pivotal would help strengthen Ford's ability to deliver "customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley.” ®

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