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Commentary: Informix CEO swap a knee-jerk reaction

The recent management changes at the maker of database software will likely result in a strategy and product shuffle.

By Betsy Burton, Gartner Analyst

The recent executive shuffle at Informix should remind industry observers of a similar situation following the company's acquisition of Illustra Information Technologies in 1996. After the deal was done, many key Informix engineers and marketing staff left the company.

Management changes aren't good for

See news story:
Informix ousts chief, names new CEO
any company. The CEO switch at Informix will likely result in a strategy and product shuffle at the company.

The board's choice of Peter Gyenes can be seen as a knee-jerk reaction to bad news. Gyenes previously was president and CEO of Ardent Software, a company that Informix acquired earlier this year.

Peter Gyenes Ardent was a significantly smaller company than Informix--Gyenes and his less experienced team now face the challenge of running a company many times larger and much less focused than Ardent.

We believe that a more prudent choice would have been either to make Gyenes president, so he could prove his abilities, or find a CEO better experienced to run a large software company.

On a positive note, Gyenes has proven that he can be decisive--he has cut less profitable product lines at Ardent.

But Gyenes will likely find this task much more difficult at Informix, given the company's current costs. Informix will probably re-examine most of its strategies during the next six to eight months, a process that could slow things down considerably.

If the board lets him keep his job long enough, Gyenes will be able to get Informix to focus on a few tactical niche markets. However, we do not believe that this latest management change will help Informix regain its position as a leading-edge software provider or improve its revenue position.

Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.