Zeichick's Take: Borland back in the frying pan

Alan Zeichick
January 8, 2009 —  Here we go again, as the company that once had the best brand in software development jumps back into the blender.

You’ve probably seen the cheery stories that broke yesterday about Tod Nielsen, former CEO of Borland, becoming COO of VMware. The positive, "Isn't this great?" coverage was skillfully orchestrated by VMware’s crack PR team, who did such a good job that nearly every Web reporter wrote nearly exactly the same upbeat, happy-happy, group-hug story.

What was neglected in almost all of the media coverage is: what about Borland? Because VMware’s PR team didn’t talk about Borland, few reporters bothered to look at the mess that Nielsen created during his three-year tenure.

(It’s striking that at Macworld, I was talking to a software developer and casually mentioned Borland. He asked, “Are they even still in business?”)

Nielsen joined Borland as president and CEO in November 2005. During that time, all that he succeeded in doing, as far as I can tell, was to spin off the tools division, which operated for a while as a subsidiary called CodeGear. CodeGear was purchased by Embarcadero Technologies in May 2008.

So, as Nielsen moves from the command chair at Borland to a supporting role at VMware, what has he left behind? When announcing his departure on Tuesday, Borland also announced preliminary fourth-quarter revenues in the range of US$38.5 to $40 million. That’s a big drop over fourth-quarter 2007 revenues of $61.5 million.

The company also announced that it will layoff 130 employees, or about 15% of its regular full-time staff.

Goodbye to Nielsen, who looks like he jumped before he was pushed. And good luck to new Borland acting president/CEO Erik Prusch, who previously served as Borland’s CFO. He’s going to need it. (By the way, when a company promotes its CFO to acting CEO, instead of advancing a sales or product executive, that’s a good sign that the company’s going to be sold soon.)

Related Search Term(s): Borland, VMware

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01/09/2009 10:54:08 AM EST

Letting go of a top performing VP of sales and a large number of highly experienced SEs doesn't equal a recipe for sales success... unless you're a competitor.

United StatesZack B

Borland restructures, expects layoffs after Nielsen departure
Tod Nielsen and Peter Morowski are leaving Borland, and the company faces low quarterly earnings and impending layoffs. An analyst comments on these matters and the rise of former CFO Erik Prusch to acting CEO and president Read More...

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