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Covisint CEO steps down after one year

The company will get its third executive officer in two years, as it struggles to remain relevant in the wake of the dot-com collapse.

Covisint, an online marketplace for the automotive industry, has appointed its third chief executive officer in two years, as the company struggles to remain relevant in the wake of the dot-com collapse.

Harold Kutner on Friday announced his retirement as CEO and chairman of Covisint, a position he filled last June. Replacing him at the helm is Bruce Swift, who was previously Covisint's president and chief operating officer.

Kutner, a General Motors veteran, had replaced Covisint's first CEO, Kevin English, who also spent only a year at the post.

Covisint was formed in 2000 by DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor, GM, Commerce One and Oracle, with the mission of creating a virtual marketplace and auction house for automotive supplies. Nissan, Peugeot and Renault signed on later.

Like numerous so-called business-to-business marketplaces that formed at the height of the Internet boom, Covisint had high hopes for becoming a public company. Executives there envisioned creating a billion-dollar revenue stream from fees collected on the sale of automotive parts to car manufacturers conducted through its site. The company hoped to have an initial public offering of its stock in 2001, and to eventually reach market capitalization of more than $10 billion.

But that business model has largely failed to take off, because the technology proved to be more complex than anticipated and suppliers soured on the idea of competing for business online. Last year, Mark Hoffman, CEO of Commerce One, admitted that Covisint was moving slower than he had hoped.

Now Covisint focuses on supply chain planning software that can be shared by automakers and their business partners over the Internet. "Looking forward, our strategy for 2003 and beyond will be to continue to focus on our core mission of connecting the automotive industry," Covisint's Swift said in a statement. "We've learned over the last two years that the best way to deliver value to the industry is by focusing on connecting the (manufacturers) and suppliers to move information."