Ford shutters company building an app for plumbers, electricians and other trades

Ford shut down VIIZR, a software-as-a-service company that, with Salesforce, created an app to help tradespeople like plumbers, locksmiths and electricians schedule field appointments, send invoices and to manage customers, TechCrunch has learned. Around 40 people who worked at VIIZR were laid off.

VIIZR, which was announced in December 2021, was a separate company majority-owned by Ford with Salesforce as a minority investor. His goal, at the time, was to create one of several digital tools that would propel automaker Ford Pro’s commercial vehicle and services business to approximately $45 billion in revenue by 2025.

VIIZR is no longer part of this plan.

Ford spokeswoman Catherine Hargett confirmed that the automaker ended its investment in VIIZR and discontinued the product on November 1 due to lack of customer demand and prioritizing its telematics software, fleet management and charging productivity, where demand is strong and growing.

Ford Pro is on track to reach $45 billion in revenue – a goal CEO Jim Farley highlighted at a January 2022 event highlighting the involvement of VIIZR and Salesforce. Ford Pro generated $42.7 billion in revenue during the first nine months of 2023, a 22% gain from the same period last year, according to the the latest company results. Subscriptions to Ford Pro software, which includes services that help companies manage their fleets, charge their electric vehicles, data analytics and telematics, reached 476,000 in the third quarter, an increase of almost 50%. from one year to the next.

While Ford Pro activity is booming, Software-as-Service has faced more competition and limited demand.

However, when VIIZR initially launched, Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Farley and Salesforce, touted its potential at a January 2022 event in Napa, California, which TechCrunch attended. VIIZR used Salesforce’s Field Service product, which provides software designed for mobile workforces, to create its app. Ford, citing market research from Salesforce and Gartner, noted that the field service management market is estimated at $3 billion annually in the United States and is expected to double over the next six years, as changes in consumer behavior brought about by COVID would lead to high demand. for professions.

The premise was that tradespeople, many of whom drove Ford Transit vans or trucks, were already using their vehicles as mobile offices. So why not capitalize on selling digital tools like an app that makes their jobs easier so, as Farley said at the time, “they don’t have to run their business from sticky notes.”

“One of the main customers for these trucks is these professional drivers; they can be first responders, contractors, electricians, plumbers – and a lot of these people work right in their truck,” Benioff told TechCrunch on the sidelines of the 2022 event. “You’ll see that they’ve reconfigured the truck, so that there’s an office and you don’t even have to leave the truck. The idea that we could then provide applications to these professionals to achieve greater levels of productivity made perfect sense and is then being integrated further into automotive services.

The market for apps like the one VIIZR was developing has become crowded and evolved rapidly in the two years since the company launched, according to Hargett, who noted that the app was related to task scheduling and scheduling. automation of back-office administrative tasks and was not directly related to vehicles or management. utility vehicles, which are Ford Pro’s priority.

Although VIIZR has been discontinued, Salesforce still provides enterprise software to Ford Pro.

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