Cerence is looking to pick up speed with an important new executive appointment and the launch of a fun new feature for its voice-based infotainment platform for consumer vehicles.
The appointment concerns the position of Chief Financial Officer, which will soon be filled by Marc Montagner, an accomplished financial executive. Montagner comes to the company from a previous position as Chief Financial Officer of Endurance International Group, where he served from 2015 to early 2021. In a statement announcing his appointment, Cerence explained that in his previous role Montagner had worked with the CEO and Board of Directors to negotiate a sale of the publicly traded SaaS company to Clearlake Capital.
Before that, Montagner served as CFO of privately held satellite operator LightSquared from 2012 to 2015, during which he helped to organize a $2 billion investment from Fortress, Centerbridge Partners and JP Morgan. Montagner has also previously worked in the finance industry directly, having held positions with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.
“After a rigorous search process, I’m excited to welcome Marc to Cerence,” said Cerence CEO Stefan Ortmanns. “His impressive background in finance, banking, and business development makes him a great fit as our next CFO.”
For his part, Montagner expressed excitement about helping to “lead a financial, operational and cultural transformation at the company.”
That transformation is presumably being spearheaded by Ortmanns, who was promoted from his previous role as the company’s General Manger of Core Products to his current position at the helm in December. Cerence’s previous chief executive, Sanjay Dwahan, had helped to usher Cerence through its first couple of years as a standalone company after it spun off from Nuance Communications in late 2019. The importance of establishing solid financial architecture for Cerence was made clear in early 2020, when Cerence announced a major debt refinancing maneuver that was expected to considerably reduce its interest payments.
Of course, innovation in the company’s technology and offerings is also critical, and on that note, Cerence has announced a new karaoke system for its platform. Dubbed ‘Cerence Sing’, it’s the product of a collaboration with Stingray Karaoke, and is designed to integrate a voice-controlled karaoke system directly into a given vehicle’s infotainment system.
The system features a ‘Driver mode’ in which an AI assistant can help the driver to learn and practice lyrics to over 100,000 karaoke songs without displaying distracting information on a screen, while a ‘Classic mode’ that displays lyrics on a car’s touchscreen can be activated only under certain conditions deemed safe by the Cerence system.
Cerence already has its first customer for Cerence Sing: Vietnam-based electric car maker VinFast is integrating the system into its VF8 and VF9 vehicles.
As for Marc Montagner, he will officially take up his CFO duties starting April 4, 2022.