Investors in White Pine Software Inc, which hasn’t turned a profit since 1994, must be wondering exactly what they’ve invested their money in, as the company continues to waver between less-than-glamorous terminal emulation software, and the hot new area of internet videoconferencing. The plot thickened this week with the sudden departure of the company’s chief […]
Investors in White Pine Software Inc, which hasn’t turned a profit since 1994, must be wondering exactly what they’ve invested their money in, as the company continues to waver between less-than-glamorous terminal emulation software, and the hot new area of internet videoconferencing. The plot thickened this week with the sudden departure of the company’s chief executive and chairman, Howard Berke, who spearheaded the company’s entry into the videoconferencing market in 1995. The company has said only that Berke’s departure was for personal reasons, but ominously, was with immediate effect. A spokesperson said that some longtime personal issues had reached a point that made either his resignation or a leave of absence imperative. Stranger still, the chairmanship has reverted back to Arthur Bruno, who headed up the company in its terminal emulation days between 1991 and 1993. Berke is the third member of the company’s management team to leave since the company went public in October last year. The company’s chief financial officer, Richard Draher departed in early March, to pursue other opportunities, and was shortly followed by Carl Koppel, who had responsibility for worldwide OEM strategic sales, and who had been promoted to that position less than two months earlier. Until a replacement can be found, the responsibilities of the president and chief executive are being filled on an interim basis by a committee led by the company’s chief technology officer, Killko Caballero. According to Caballero, White Pine still derives 50% of its revenues from the terminal emulation market, and is planning new products for launch this year. However, much of the $25 million raised by the company’s initial public offering will be channeled into the videoconferencing side of the business. An August rollout is planned for the new MeetingPoint videoconferencing server software that allows users of different desktop conferencing software products, such as its own CU-SeeMe software or Microsoft Corp’s NetMeeting, to connect with one another. Last October, the company learned a lesson in the world of technology stocks when it launched its IPO of 3 million shares at $9 a piece and the shares promptly did a nose- dive. The stock hasn’t traded anywhere near $9 since November and is currently under $3, having hit a low of $2 in April. On May 1, White Pine reported a first-quarter net loss of $2.3m, which it blamed on shipping delay in the CU-SeeMe 3.0 product and increased competition from other software-only desktop videoconferencing products. Two rounds of hiring also occurred in both the fourth quarter of last year and last quarter, taking the total headcount to 160 – twice the number of employees it had two years ago. The company predicts profitability at the end of the year or the beginning of 1998.