Executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Tod Nielsen, is the latest senior casualty of BEA Systems Inc.’s management restructuring, as the company attempts to focus on sales execution.
Nielson, who joined BEA in 2001 through the acquisition of development tools start-up Crossgain, is due to finish his last day with the Java platform vendor tomorrow, having submitted his resignation, according to a BEA Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.
Nielson is the sixth senior executive to quit the company in less than a month, and his departure apparently reinforces the perception of a radical shift by BEA away from the existing product and strategy to a policy of sales execution, involving less ambitious thinking.
Among others to go were senior vice president of advanced development Adam Bosworth, also from Crossgain, and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Scott Dietzen, individuals behind BEA’s WebLogic Workshop Java development environment and the market-leading WebLogic Server application server.
Nielson himself was charged with growing BEAs dev2dev developer community around WebLogic Workshop, having stewarded the highly successful Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), during his tenure at former employer Microsoft Corp.
BEA, though, failed to realize the optimistic goal of one million Workshop developers within 12 months of the product’s first launch in 2002. Subsequently, BEA insisted the one million number was a stretch goal.
Meanwhile, questions remain over the future of at least one other executive, general manager for BEA’s WebLogic Integration business Chet Kapoor, who is also rumored to have left. BEA was unavailable for comment yesterday.
The executive exodus is taking place as BEA attempts to penetrate Small and Medium Business (SMB) accounts, ISVs and Value Added Resellers (VARs) with packaged versions of the WebLogic Platform, which it hopes will help grow revenue from new licensing.
During the last two quarters, revenue from WebLogic has increasingly declined, while the ratio of income derived from licensing and services has swung in favor of services.
BEA is attempting to address these newer markets with versions of WebLogic Platform tweaked to specific customers’ needs. These include WebLogic Platform ISV Edition, announced Monday, and WebLogic Business Process Edition, announced at the company’s eWorld conference in May.
To help improve execution, sales, services and marketing have been placed under Tom Ashburn, former head of sales and now executive vice president of worldwide sales, marketing and services. It was a move that saw Nielson – who was in charge of worldwide marketing – no longer report to company chief executive Alfred Chuang, and instead report to Ashburn.
Tom Murphy, Metagroup analyst, said it was important BEA now issues a statement around its commitment to WebLogic Workshop, the next-generation browser codenamed Alchemy unveiled by Bosworth at eWorld, and other products to reassure customers, following the loss of Nielson.
It looks like there is strife and struggle, and those who don’t agree have all gone, Murphy said. BEA is in an OK position with cash in bank, it has a strong business, and portal is puling things together [but] the vision – that’s where people make the big buy. Yet, BEA’s CTO guy and the guy in charge of products have left.
Current Analysis principle analyst, Shawn Willett, noted BEA’s executive losses could be due to a convergence of factors, notably increased competition, poor sales and the fact other areas of BEA’s business, like Liquid Data, have yet to pick-up while the application server market remains an area of low growth.
He said, though, that BEA’s financial performance did not justify the loss of so many names. BEA could be concentrating on sales and execution rather than product development, Willett observed.