Palm's Abrams lands at start-up Chemdex

Robin Abrams, who last week resigned as president of Palm Computing, is named chief operating officer of an e-commerce start-up.

2 min read
Robin Abrams, who last week resigned as president of Palm Computing, has been named chief operating officer of an e-commerce start-up.

Abrams is taking COO duties at Chemdex Corporation, a start-up providing medical and laboratory supplies. Chemdex filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May to sell its shares publicly.

"Chemdex has enormous potential as a business-to-business e-commerce leader, and I am excited to join the company at this stage," said Abrams, in a statement. Both Abrams and Chemdex declined to elaborate on the announcement, citing an SEC-mandated quiet period.

Last week, in an unexpected move, Abrams announced her departure from Palm Computing, which designs and manufacturers the popular PalmPilot handheld computers. She left only five months after joining the 3Com company. 3Com executive Alan Kessler was named to succeed her.

Prior to joining Palm Computing, Abrams was president of VeriFone. She was named president of Palm after a lengthy search, following the departure of co-founder and president Donna Dubinsky, who left to start a new handheld venture, Handspring.

Abrams, who succeeded interim president Janice Roberts, may have left Palm in a state of upheaval, analysts say. The company has released three new hardware products this year, the Palm IIIx, the Palm V, and the Palm VII, but a number of improvements to the platform are still in mid-development, according to Abrams, who discussed the projects last month at PC Expo in New York. Palm is expected to release operating system upgrades later this year that will enable devices with larger displays.

"It is interesting to point out that this is the third president that they've gone through in a year," noted Jill House, an analyst at International Data Corporation. Palm devices compete head-to-head with handhelds based on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system. These devices have recently been upgraded to include color displays, which has offset some of the technical disadvantages of the Windows CE devices.

In the newly created position at Chemdex, Abrams will head up the sales, marketing, and customer service divisions. She will report directly to president David Perry. Chemdex is funded by venture capital giants Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and CMGI, along with several other investors. Biotech firm Genentech accounts for over 80 percent of Chemdex revenues, and co-founder Robert Swenson sits on the Chemdex board, according to the company's filings with the SEC.