The Coca-Cola Co (KO) recently stated fourth quarter and full year 2016 operating results. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, said, “We are happy to report that we ended 2016 with fourth quarter top- and bottom-line growth within our expectations. Strong price/mix stemming from our continued focus on driving revenue and solid performance in our developed markets assisted offset persistent macroeconomic pressures in our emerging and developing markets. Our flagship market of North America grew net revenues 8% for the quarter and 4% for the year, outperforming total retail value growth for both the North America nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverage industry and U.S. consumer packaged goods companies.”
“In addition to delivering our profit target for the full year, I am encouraged by the planned actions taken during 2016 to strengthen our global bottling system. In the fourth quarter, we reached a definitive agreement to refranchise all Company-owned bottling operations in China, and we took important steps to further the evolution of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa. During the year, we successfully accomplished the creation of Coca-Cola European Partners, and we supported the ongoing transformation of the franchise bottling system in Japan. And last, we remain on track to complete the refranchising of Company-owned bottling operations in the United States by the end of 2017. In total, half of our global system revenue has been in motion through our recent actions to strengthen the system. The progress demonstrated by these actions is foundational in positioning our system for prosperity long into the future.”
“We also recently made an important decision about the future leadership of The Coca-Cola Company with the declarement that James Quincey will become our next CEO, effective May 1. Having worked closely with James for many years, I know that his knowledge and experience make him the ideal candidate to lead our Company and bottling system into the future. I am partnering with James to ensure a smooth CEO transition and look forward to providing continued support as Chairman of the Board of Directors.”
Ford Motor Company (F) recently declares it is investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company, to develop a virtual driver system for the automaker’s autonomous vehicle coming in 2021 – and for potential license to other companies.
Founded by former Google and Uber leaders, Argo AI is bringing together some of the most practiced roboticists and engineers working in autonomy from inside and outside of Ford. The team of experts in robotics and artificial intelligence is led by Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky, company CEO, and Peter Rander, company COO. Both are alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and former leaders on the self-driving car teams of Google and Uber, respectively.
“The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as noteworthyan impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields. “As Ford expands to be an auto and a mobility company, we believe that investing in Argo AI will create noteworthyvalue for our shareholders by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and by creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future.”
The current team developing Ford’s virtual driver system – the machine-learning software that acts as the brain of autonomous vehicles – will be combined with the robotics talent and expertise of Argo AI. This innovative partnership will work to deliver the virtual driver system for Ford’s SAE level 4 self-driving vehicles.
Ford will continue to lead on development of its purpose-built autonomous vehicle hardware platform, in addition to on systems integration, manufacturing, exterior and interior design, and regulatory policy administration.
Argo AI will join forces with Ford’s autonomous vehicle software development effort to strengthen the commercialization of self-driving vehicles. Argo AI’s agility and Ford’s scale exclusively combine the benefits of a technology startup with the experience and discipline of the automaker’s industry-leading autonomous vehicle development program.
“We are at an inflection point in using artificial intelligence in a wide range of applications, and the successful deployment of self-driving cars will fundamentally change how people and goods move,” said Salesky. “We are energized by Ford’s commitment and vision for the future of mobility, and we believe this partnership will facilitate self-driving cars to be commercialized and deployed at scale to extend affordable mobility to all.”
The partnershipsupports Ford’s intent to have a fully autonomous, SAE level 4-capable vehicle for commercial application in mobility services in 2021.
“Working together with Argo AI gives Ford a distinct competitive advantage at the intersection of the automotive and technology industries,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer. “This open partnershipis unlike any other partnership – allowing us to benefit from combining the speed of a startup with Ford’s strengths in scaling technology, systems integration and vehicle design.”
Also complementing the relationship will be Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which will lead on the commercialization strategy for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. This includes choices for using autonomous vehicles to move goods and people, such as ride sharing, ride hailing or package delivery fleets.
Ford will be the majority stakeholder in Argo AI. Importantly, Argo AI has been structured to operate with substantial independence. Its employees will have noteworthyequity participation in the company, enabling them to share in its success. Argo AI’s board will have five members: Nair; John Casesa, Ford group vice president, Global Strategy; Salesky; Rander; and an independent director.
The $1 billion investment in Argo AI will be made over five years and is consistent with the autonomous vehicle capital allocation plan shared last September as part of Ford Shareholder Day.