Auckland CRM shop shuts up

Mathias Technologies NZ, the Auckland development arm for a London customer management software firm launched with much fanfare two years ago, has shut up shop with the loss of around 20 jobs.

Mathias Technologies NZ, the Auckland development arm for a London customer management software firm launched with much fanfare two years ago, has shut up shop with the loss of around 20 jobs.

Mathias Technologies was set up in September of 2001 in Newmarket with former Terabyte technical director Rodney Prescott at its head.

The company was to develop for Mathias Client Management Software, a CRM organisation based in London and the sister company of consulting company Mathias & Co in Arizona.

Peter Mathias (pictured), the president of the parent company, made at least two visits to this country in the process of establishing the development centre. The company was aiming at the “5% niche” market of large banks and professional services companies.

Last April the company talked about having completed the J2EE version of its CRM product, ClientFirst, by June 30. ClientFirst used Outlook or Lotus Notes as the front end of the bank’s client and workflow management software, storing additional client information in any compatible database.

Rodney Prescott, the former CEO of Mathias Technologies in New Zealand, declines to comment on what had happened to the local development arm, referring all enquiries to parent company Mathias & Co. Prescott says, however, that he has not worked for the company for a year and is now consulting.

Mathias & Co, reached at its offices in Phoenix, Arizona last week, confirmed that the company had recently closed the Auckland office, a spokeswoman saying that operations had not been “as profitable as hoped”. Most staff had been laid off, she said, although some had relocated to Europe. Last year the company had moved some staff from London to New Zealand.

Peter Mathias acknowledged last year that there were two major problems facing the company. The first was that the company’s clients were located on the other side of the world to its development house. Even videoconferencing can’t quite bridge the gap. “It’s tough,” he said.

The second issue involved IBM. Mathias said IBM wanted to sell workflow tools into the financial services market, and pairing ClientFirst with a proportion of the 45 million Lotus Notes users would be one way for the company to scale quickly.

But to convince IBM to support the company and its technology, Mathias needed two successful implementations in Europe and one in Australia.

To answer both questions the company was opening a sales office in Sydney and would target large Australian financial institutions. Attempts to contact the Sydney office were unsuccessful.

Mathias had said MCMS didn’t want to be involved in implementations, so IBM or a Spanish firm was to handle those. Mathias had a Notes implementation of the product in a division of Deutsche Bank.

Last year the local arm employed 19 staff but was looking for a couple more. The Phoenix spokeswoman confirmed about 20 had lost their jobs, and said she was not aware of the jobs moving to another country. In 2001 Peter Mathias projected 30 staff within a few months and perhaps 100 in four years’ time.

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