Ford Motor Company has created a joint venture with Trilogy Software to develop and operate the car manufacturer's consumer website.
The unnamed company will expand Ford's existing corporate website and improve co-ordination between other sites run by Ford dealers. The car giant will retain a majority stake in alliance, which will be based in Texas with additional offices in Michigan, California and Europe. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Officials said the venture will use ecommerce software from Trilogy which provides vehicle configuration and ordering, and be operational within the next 30 days. The company will be headed by Trilogy co-founder Chris Porch and be staffed by a mixture of Ford and Trilogy employees.
"The reason we want to set up a separate venture to do this is that we want the culture of a startup or a dot com," said Brian Kelley, a vice president at Ford and president of the company's consumer connect group. "We want to take advantage of the resources and size of Ford, but have the mindset and soul of a smaller company."
While the venture will free Ford from maintaining web services internally, Rob DeSisto, an analyst at researcher GartnerGroup, said the deal has a doubled-edged sword.
"Trilogy will provide Ford most of the technology for them to be successful, but what Ford is really getting with Trilogy is some technology that has significant gaps in functionality as it exists today, relative to [those from its] competitors, such as Selectica and Firepond," he said.
Over the past six months, Ford has boosted its ecommerce plans in an attempt to reach more customers. In November, the company formed an online parts auction site called Autoexchange with database software maker Oracle. In September, Ford also created a venture with Microsoft's MSN web portal to develop its Carpoint online car buying service.
A Ford spokesman said the joint venture will not affect Autoexchange, which is intended for suppliers. "We are looking at new ventures on an ongoing basis," he said.
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