Following the surprise firing of John Schoof as chief executive of Tucson, Arizona-based Artisoft Inc, the company yesterday announced that it had appointed William Keiper as interim chairman. He was named the new chief executive last week, and he temporarily holds all the top three positions – he joined Artisoft in January 1993, as president […]
Following the surprise firing of John Schoof as chief executive of Tucson, Arizona-based Artisoft Inc, the company yesterday announced that it had appointed William Keiper as interim chairman. He was named the new chief executive last week, and he temporarily holds all the top three positions – he joined Artisoft in January 1993, as president and chief operating officer. The peer-to-peer networking company caused something of a flutter when it fired Schoof last week. With Alex Karahalios, who remains at the company as vice-president of research and development, Schoof – who has always retained a hands-on interest in technology – was the brains behind peer-to-peer networking, the technology on which Artisoft’s fortunes (and his own) were built, in the shape of LANtastic. Artisoft is keeping silent about the reasons for Schoof’s departure: The company cannot comment on why he was dismissed, said a spokesman. However, even Schoof himself professes not to know the reason for his ousting. He says he returned from a two-week promotional tour of Europe for version 5 of LANtastic to be faced with a special board meeting at which he voted ‘no’ to his own dismissal. Among the possible reasons being put forward for the dismissal is Artisoft’s evolution from a small start-up into a significant public company with a 1992 turnover of $73m. Dave Ball, ex-marketing director of the UK subsidiary company (now with Performance Technology), feels that as the company’s fortunes rose, there were problems with management, which didn’t change with it. There were strong growth pains, he says. Indeed, according to Ball, the management style at Artisoft had already caused problems within its European operations. When the UK company was set up, it was expected to be the central hub for European operations. Last year, however, the decision was taken to locate the European headquarters in Holland and this combined with the introduction of US staff at a high level is said to have left employees with the distinct impression that the US was telling Europe how to do business. All in all, the move prompted the departure of some fairly senior employees – including Ball. There is also a new vice-president of engineering, Sunil Padiyar, former director of software development at Novell Inc, who approached Artisoft of his own accord, feeling that Novell was concentrating too much on the high end of networking. Schoof’s dealings with the company are not over yet, however. He holds in excess of 20% of the company’s shares: more than the combined total held by the other board members. Schoof says that he has not yet decided whether he will now sell the shares, or hold on to them for the present in case something turns up.