Smart automotive and conversational AI specialist Cerence Inc. has a new leader at the helm. The company has announced that its former General Manager of Core Products, Dr. Stefan Ortmanns, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and President of the company.
Ortmanns replaces Sanjay Dhawan, who has resigned from the company, effective immediately. In a statement announcing the change, Cerence did not offer a reason for Dhawan’s departure, though the former CEO offered comments on the change.
“It has been an honor to lead Cerence for the last two years,” Dhawan said. “I agree with the Board that Stefan, with his success and history at the company, is the right person to lead Cerence from here.”
Formerly the Chief Technology Officer of Harman Industries, Dhawan played a critical role in overseeing Cerence’s spinoff from its previous parent company, Nuance Communications. Under his leadership, Cerence proceeded from its debut as a standalone company in late 2019 to report a significant jump in revenues over the course of its first year. Dhawan cashed out on that success with a recent sale of $6.8 million worth of his holdings in the company’s stock.
For his part, Ortmanns has also played an important role in the company. In a statement, Cerence described him as “an original architect” of Cerence’s technology, adding that he “is responsible for the bulk of Cerence’s revenue today”.
Before branching off with Cerence, Ortmanns spent more than 16 years with Nuance, starting out as the Senior Vice President of its Mobile Division’s Engineering and Professional Services unit, and reaching the position of EVP and General Manager in 2018.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to guide Cerence’s continued success, and I look forward to collaborating with the Cerence leadership team and our employees,” Ortmanns said. “Over more than two decades, this team has led innovation and growth for conversational AI in automotive and mobility. Together, we will seek to drive the company to new heights.”
In addition to replacing Dhawan as Cerence’s President and CEO, Ortmanns is also taking a Board of Directors seat vacated by the former executive. The Board’s Chairman, Arun Sarin, expressed his confidence in and appreciation for Ortmann and his efforts to date.
“As the original architect of the business and with his deep customer insights, Stefan has proven to the Board that he is the right person to take this company forward,” Sarin said. “With responsibility for more than 80 percent of the company’s revenue today, he already has the full confidence of the global Cerence team and its Board.”
News of the leadership change comes shortly after Cerence’s announcement of a partnership with Micware, a Japan-based navigation software developer focused on two-wheel vehicles.