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Ford Is Looking for a Tech Executive to Be the CEO of Its New Mobility Company

The "separate but connected" subsidiary will be called the Ford Smart Mobility LLC.

Ethan Miller / Getty

As the auto and tech industries barrel toward a mobility-focused future, staying ahead of the curve is increasingly a software game. To develop the best software, automakers like Ford have to attract and retain the best software engineers and talent. As of today, Ford is trying to do just that, and it’s looking to dip its toes into Silicon Valley’s pool of executive talent to lead the charge.

The Detroit automaker announced today that it was breaking out its mobility programs — which run the gamut from car sharing to autonomous vehicles — into a separate subsidiary called Ford Smart Mobility LLC. Former Steelcase executive and Ford board member Jim Hackett will be heading up the “separate but connected” — as Ford CEO Mark Fields referred to it — entity as chairman, leaving the position of CEO up for grabs.

According to Fields, the company has been reaching out to a “handful” of candidates on the West Coast and Silicon Valley — where part of the subsidiary will be based — to take over as the CEO of this new entity. The CEO will effectively be in charge of executing the strategy Hackett lays out.

Fields says the move to separate the mobility program from its core business is a “proof point” of the company’s commitment to developing this new technology and will allow this arm to work more flexibly and quickly. “We’re also cognizant it’s a bit of a talent-war race, particularly in the area of mobility services,” Fields told Re/code.

Seeing as the company is not required to disclose spending, and the program’s progress — or lack thereof — will not have any bearing on Ford’s overall stock prices, breaking it out into a separate entity is certainly a means to protect the company’s ability to experiment with new technologies. The company does not plan to reveal what it’s investing in the program now that it’s a separate subsidiary, but says the new entity will still have access to Ford Motor Company’s resources and knowledge base.

An additional risk of breaking out its mobility arm into a separate entity is whether the move will inhibit the company’s ability to later integrate the new technology into its core structure.

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