General Motors has hired Apple CEO Mike Abbott to lead its software division as the automaker ramps up its efforts to sell “software-defined vehicles” that offer a wide range of capabilities from in-car subscriptions and apps to over-the-air updates and digital services.
Abbott, the former vice president of engineering for Apple’s cloud services division, will report to GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra. The official title of this newly created position is executive vice president of software.
Abbott will play a central role in GM’s plan to bring software development in-house and launch revenue-generating digital services and features for its consumer and commercial customers. Software has become increasingly important in the automotive industry as companies try to attract buyers with so-called “software-defined vehicles” that offer voice, navigation, and even third-party apps. The shift from automakers to EVs has only accelerated those efforts, as software plays a key role in behind-the-scenes battery management for forward-facing functions, such as showing the driver where EV chargers are.
Abbott will lead the team responsible for that entire software ecosystem. He will oversee three software divisions: software-defined vehicle and operating system led by Scott Miller, information and digital technology led by Stacy Lynett, and Edward Kummer’s digital business team.
“We have entered the next phase of our technology-driven transformation, focused on rapidly scaling up new EV models and our Ultifi software platform, which will drive faster innovation and enable new and exciting customer experiences,” Barra said in a statement. “Mike’s experience as a founder and entrepreneur coupled with his proven track record of creating and delivering some of the most compelling software-defined solutions in the consumer and business markets make him an excellent fit at GM.”
Ultifi is an end-to-end software platform built on top of GM’s existing vehicle intelligence platform – the underlying hardware architecture that provides increased data processing power. Rolling out to a number of GM brands later this year, Ultifi will bring all vehicle modules onto a single platform, making it easier and faster to issue over-the-air software updates and give owners access to subscription services and other in-car tech. Ultifi was intended to be integrated alongside Android Automotive, the operating system embedded in some GM infotainment systems. (Android Automotive OS is separate from Android Auto, a secondary interface that sits on top of the OS.)
During his time at Apple, Abbott led the team that developed the core infrastructure for all of Apple’s cloud-based services, including iCloud iMessage, private relay, mail and account security. His team also created products for Apple’s education and enterprise categories.
Formerly a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Abbott focused on investments in mobile and cloud computing, and also worked with entrepreneurs to better leverage social media tools, build teams and increase their funding. Abbott has also led teams responsible for developing applications and services at Twitter, Palm and Microsoft.