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Ford and Microsoft lead $253 million investment in EMC-owned Pivotal

The automaker is going from customer to part-owner.


Automaker Ford and software giant Microsoft have led a $253 million investment round in the EMC-controlled software development company Pivotal that values the company at about $2.8 billion.

It’s the third investment round for Pivotal, whose other investors include GE and VMware, and coincides with the third anniversary of its founding. Ford’s contribution to the round amounts to about $182 million, Pivotal CEO Rob Mee said in an interview.

Pivotal is a cloud software company that helps its customers build up their own software development capabilities; it also offers tools and services to support those efforts. Ford has been a Pivotal customer and will use its technology to build and run software related to its connected car applications.

The investment from Ford comes as U.S. automakers are intensifying efforts to build up their technology chops in order to create self-driving cars. On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it plans to produce 100 minivans next year using technology from Google.

Microsoft is investing in the round, Mee said, after many of its customers requested support for Pivotal products, including Cloud Foundry, a service for deploying and managing software on its Azure cloud computing platform.

Pivotal is the relatively small member of the collection of companies controlled by EMC which includes VMware and the security company RSA. Its conceit is keyed to the notion that pretty much every company is a software company in some fashion, in that each has its own custom processes that could be improved or automated with software.

GE was an early Pivotal investor, pouring $105 million into the company in 2013. The industrial giant says its software relationship with Pivotal helped it develop more efficient ways to analyze how its jet engines consume fuel, which in turn can help airlines save on fuel costs.

EMC is in the process of being acquired by privately held Dell in a deal that is expected to close in the fall. Pivotal is eventually expected to go public on its own in a partial spinout.

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