Borland's new CEO tackles tasks

The new chief executive at Borland hopes to lead the beleaguered company out of rough financial waters by riding the Internet wave.

The new chief executive at Borland hopes to lead the beleaguered company out of rough financial waters by riding the Internet wave.

Delbert Yocam, 52, was appointed to the position this week. Gary Wetsel stepped down as company head in July after the company's dismal second-quarter numbers were released.

Yocam was executive vice-president and chief operating officer at Apple from 1986 to 1989. He led Apple in its heyday, when the company increased its annual revenue from US$1.9 billion to more than US$4 billion in three years.

Yocam admits he will have his plate full at Borland, which is known for high-end software development tools such as Delphi and InterBase.

The company was not making the transition to new markets fast enough. Client/server, the Internet and the intranet are the markets that are moving, Yocam says. "Borland made the right decisions. I just don't think they happened early enough.''

Yocam says one of the company's problems lies in the difference between expenses and revenue. He says bringing those lines together will be one of the first things he tackles when he starts work. One option in doing that is layoffs, though Yocam says nothing is a sure bet at this point.

Yocam takes Borland's helm two months after 15% of its employees were laid off and right after the company reported a US$9.8 million loss for its third quarter.

"I made a lot of money at Apple, and I'm a pretty independent character," Yocam says. "I can choose work where there's excitement, and I can get my juices flowing. I wouldn't be joining if I didn't think there was the technology to get me excited.''

Yocam will oversee the launch of three new products in the next six months: an updated version of Delphi for client/server, a new version of Borland C++ and Open J Builder, a visual Java tool.

"Yocam clearly is what Borland needs," says Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Hurwitz Group, in Newton, Massachusetts. "Borland often has the world's greatest technology. There's a very developer-centric culture there, and they make good products. They need a way to turn their technology into a viable business. They need someone who can manage costs and marketing and make appropriate partnerships.''

Chris Kwiecinski, senior systems developer at Nabisco, in Parsippany, New Jersey, says Borland needs to focus on making its products easier to use. "I kind of like Delphi, but if they want to get into the corporate world, they've got to make it easier," Kwiecinski says. He says he hasn't even bothered to look at the latest version of Delphi, even though he has used Borland products for the past 10 or 12 years.

Gottheil says that Yocam was at Apple when the firm was making computing easier. That was the period when the Macintosh was clearly a real computer and a heck of a lot easier to use than an Intel-based or DOS-based computer, he says.

After he left Apple, Yocam served on the boards of eight companies, including Adobe and Oracle. He still holds those two posts and three others. From 1992 to 1994, he was the CEO at Tektronix, a hardware company in Wilsonville, Oregon.

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