Ford hires Apple veteran to lead consumer software efforts

on Aug14
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An electric Ford truck is displayed during the Electrify Expo In D.C. on July 23, 2023 in Washington, DC.

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DETROIT – Ford Motor said Monday that it has hired Apple veteran Peter Stern to lead a newly created division focused on developing and marketing software-enabled customer experiences for the automaker.

Stern, who most recently served as vice president of services at Apple, will be president of “Ford Integrated Services.” He starts with the automaker immediately.

Monetizing emerging software offerings such as advanced driver-assist systems as well as other safety and convenience features is viewed as a major challenge for automakers, as they try to increase reoccurring revenue through software subscriptions.

“This is transformational, because the cornerstone of our Ford+ plan is creating incredible customer services and experiences enabled by great hardware and software,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a release. “There’s simply no one in the world better able than Peter Stern to build this strategically vital part of our business.”

Farley said during a call with reporters after the announcement that revenue from current software services is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with gross margins of more than 50%. He said the company has roughly 550,000 paid subscribers.

“We expect to 10x that in the coming years just based on the growth we see,” Farley said Monday.

Stern said he will be focused on “customer experiences that feel like magic.” He said such services will deliver incremental revenue with high margins.

“I have tremendous faith in our ability to not only deliver a great experience in the future but also to build on the foundation that I’ve seen today that are already quite strong,” Stern said. “I feel nothing but optimism from where I sit.”

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Ford’s stock in 2023

Farley has added a slew of executives from outside the automotive industry to his management team – many from the tech sector – to assist in implementing the company’s Ford+ restructuring plan.

Most notably, Farley poached former Tesla and Apple executive Doug Field to lead Ford’s technology efforts. Stern said he and Field, who serves as chief advanced product development and technology officer, “will be tied at the hip” in their roles at Ford.

Ford has been restructuring its operations for several years under its Ford+ plan, led by Farley. The plan is focused on making the automaker’s operations more efficient, while better positioning Ford for investments in electric vehicles, software and other emerging technologies.

Stern served as vice president of services at Apple for more than six years through January, overseeing efforts such as Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, MLS Season Pass and Apple One.

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