By purchasing software firm Wind River for $4.3 billion in cash, supplier Aptiv Inc. is not only gaining technology it will need as vehicles become more software-driven. It will also be adding a staff that includes more than 1,000 technical employees at a time when software developers, engineers, data analysts and other high-skilled workers have never been more in demand in the auto industry.
"You have to be really careful as a company that you have the right people to analyze that data and manage it because there's going to be a lot of junk data out there," said Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "That piece of human capital is vital, and if you don't have it, you'd better start partnering with those that do. I think that's exactly what Aptiv is doing with Wind River."
The Aptiv-Wind River deal comes as automakers, suppliers and tech companies spend billions of dollars to create new vehicle software capabilities, enabling more over-the-air updates that the industry hopes will provide consumers with desirable features and boost service revenue.
Wind River, formed in 1983 and most recently owned by private equity group TPG Capital, develops software and cloud systems for several industries, including automotive, aerospace, defense and telecommunications. Aptiv hopes Wind River's expertise across those industries will help its pursuit of new business for its automotive software stack.
"We think some of the big answers to some of the big questions that are being faced by automotive in how to deploy software effectively across the fleets is actually going to come from other industries," Aptiv CFO Joe Massaro said on a call with analysts this week. "Wind River has a lot of that know-how and a lot of that understanding."