Today at the Sybase international user conference John Chen, chairman, chief executive and president of the company, attempted to dispel doubts about the extent of the company's recovery.
Sybase, best known for its database products, has struggled against declining license revenue in recent times. Last year it returned to profit but has been the subject of a number of acquisition rumours.
"One year ago I took over the job and a lot of people were asking about our viability. Today I rarely ever get asked that question," said Chen.
"We have been profitable for the last five consecutive quarters. In the last quarter we made 17 cents per share and a profit of $14 million. In the last 12 months Sybase generated $125 million in cash and we have $299 million in the bank to invest," he added.
The chief executive told a packed hall, which included database, tools and middleware users, that last year the company spent as much as 17 per cent of revenue in R&D and "will continue to do so."
"In the past year we have released 12 new products and 30 product releases," he added. "We do not intend to sit on our installed base. In the next 12 months we will have 12 new products and they will all be ebusiness and portal ready."
Living up to his promise that Sybase will be, "more aggressive in going forward" and put a stop to "stealth marketing," Chen aimed a nasty right hook at Oracle.
"We were thinking of adding another track to the eight we have at the conference, for Oracle users, 'How to keep their ebusiness sites up and running when there is more than one user'."
He said that Sybase has increased its market share of production databases from 62 per cent in 1997 to 68 per cent in 1998 "at the expense of Oracle," whose share shrunk from 23 per cent to seven per cent in the same period.
Chen said that dividing the company into four divisions - business intelligence, enterprise solutions, Internet applications and mobile and embedded had, "driven accountability deep and made us very nimble."
He then floated to the topic of Sybase's ebusiness strategy: "The people who use our tools, their ebusiness sites are up and running. We make sure they don't get in the news for the wrong reason."
Chen said that financial analysts at Merrill Lynch had predicted that enterprise information portals (EIP)will be bigger than ERP in the future and claimed Sybase would be a winner in this field.
"EIP plays to our strengths. Our integration capabilities and our open architecture for applications. We bridge our customers legacy set of business infrastructure and rules with the Web," he said.
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