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CSC exec departs for services start-up

Kirk Arnold, the head of services company Computer Sciences Corp.'s consulting division, leaves for Internet start-up NerveWire.

    The head of services company Computer Sciences Corp.'s consulting division has left for an Internet start-up.

    Kirk Arnold has joined NerveWire, a services company launched last year by former Cambridge Technology Partners executive Malcolm Frank, the company said today.

    Without going into detail, NerveWire co-founder and CEO Frank confirmed Arnold's appointment and said she will start as chief operating officer tomorrow at the Needham, Mass.-based company. A formal announcement is expected later this week, he said. Arnold spent about six years at CSC. Jim Saviano, who has led CSC's e-business initiative during the past six months, will replace her.

    Arnold joins a growing list of high-level executives at services firms who have bolted for start-ups. Executives from IBM Global Services, Cambridge Technology Partners, EDS and Andersen Consulting, among others, have gone on to head companies including Scient, Viant, Lante and Zefer, lured by stock options and a shift in the industry to e-commerce and Internet-related consulting projects.

    NerveWire, which launched about four months ago, helps build Net marketplaces that companies use to do business with partners and suppliers. After nabbing $60 million in venture funding from Thoma Cressey Equity Partners, NerveWire last month merged with Northeast Consulting Resources.

    Susan Scrupski-Miranda, an industry analyst who heads IT Services Advisory, said Arnold made a smart move.

    "CSC is one of these oil tankers that really has to become a speedboat," said Scrupski-Miranda. "It's going to take a couple of years for CSC to start reaping the benefits of its e-transformation. Why (should Arnold) wait?"

    In a research note, Merrill Lynch analyst Steve McClellan said Arnold's departure was not a surprise and should not affect CSC's progress in landing e-business deals. McClellan, who set a 12-month price target of $110 per share for CSC, said the company has generated about $600 million in e-business revenues thanks to projects with companies such as e-Steel and Chematch.

    Two weeks ago, CSC inked a $300 million deal with Saturn to help build an online network to link the automaker's dealers, customers and business partners. As part of the seven-year contract, CSC will lead a technology team that includes Siebel and business management software maker Reynolds & Reynolds. Other companies on the project include software developer Tibco and Microsoft.