Reports over the weekend say that enterprise resource application company Peoplesoft will today announce it has chosen external candidate Craig Conway to replace Dave Duffield as president.
Up until 2 February this year, Conway was chief executive of interactive distance learning products startup Onetouch, which was acquired last August by Hughes Network Systems and Apollo Group.
If the reports are true, Conway comes to Peoplesoft at a time when its stock fortunes may be turning. The last week has seen all the major application vendors stock prices move upwards, as fears recede that the second half of 1999 will be as disastrous as analysts were predicting at the beginning of the year.
When Peoplesoft went public about its search for a president to take on some of Duffield's operational responsibilities, it was said at the time that Peoplesoft was looking for a heavy hitter who has credibility with Wall Street.
Like others in the applications' market, Peoplesoft has suffered from a sharp decline in licence revenues, a problem it has blamed on customers' concerns over Year 2000 issues. This requires an entirely different management emphasis than when sales are easy and growth rapid.
Aneel Bushri, Peoplesoft's prime business strategist, ruled himself out when he took a partnership with venture capital firm Greylock in April.
The next obvious candidate, Ron Codd was already paddling his own canoe at Peoplesoft spin off Momentum. This left an internal void, forcing Peoplesoft to look outside.
If Conway takes the position, then it will be an odd appointment. His previous company was never publicly quoted and operated in a niche area. As a company with annual revenues exceeding $1.3 billion, Peoplesoft executives are high profile.
Analysts agree that Peoplesoft is in a delicate position. Culturally, it has always fostered a family atmosphere, yet it had to let 430 people go and redeploy 100 others following a significant quarterly licence revenue decline in the year to 31 March.
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