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PeopleSoft executive Gupta departs

Ram Gupta, who was an executive vice president, leaves the company after a four-year stint. PeopleSoft is mum on the details.

A PeopleSoft executive who oversaw the company's products and its integration with J.D. Edwards departed from the company this week, a company representative confirmed Friday.

Ram Gupta, who was executive vice president of products and technology, leaves the company after a four-year stint, which included overseeing PeopleSoft's integration with J.D. Edwards, a company PeopleSoft acquired in 2003. The company declined to comment on whether Gupta resigned or was fired. His departure comes just two weeks after Craig Conway was ousted from the chief executive position.

Gupta could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ram Gupta

"Over the last two years, (Gupta's) top role was the integration of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards," said Charles Di Bona, an analyst at Bernstein & Co. "During that time, there was not a new product cycle to come out of PeopleSoft, and he was (in) charge of that. He also had responsibility for converging the companies into one code base, and that clearly hasn't happened, either. The synergies that the companies talked about last year have not panned out."

Last September, Gupta and PeopleSoft's management team addressed Wall Street during an analyst event. The executives touted the "huge synergies" that were about to occur with the integration of J.D. Edwards, Di Bona recalled.

"I think they could have done more. The direction they took with the merger was wrong. They were not aggressive enough in moving the two code bases together," Di Bona added.

Stan Swete, a former longtime PeopleSoft executive, has replaced Gupta as executive vice president of products and technology, said Steve Swasey, a PeopleSoft spokesman.

The appointment of Swete, who was called out of retirement to take the job, is one of the first changes to PeopleSoft's management ranks since Conway was fired and replaced by board chairman Dave Duffield, who also is a founder and former chief executive.

Swete worked at PeopleSoft between 1992 to 2002, and was the principal architect of PeopleSoft 8, Swasey said.

"He wanted to retire in 2000 but was willing to stay longer" to work on the customer relationship management piece of PeopleSoft 8, said Swasey, noting that Swete worked at the company during an important time in its development.

While some on Wall Street are speculating that Duffield is building a team to sell, others say he may be building a management team to "play."

"You would expect to see some changes whenever you get a new CEO," Di Bona said. "It's like Joe Gibbs with the Redskins. He retuned to the team as its new coach. And when you come back, you surround yourself with the people who made you successful in the first place."

Duffield, however, may find it hard to attract executives who are willing to leave a comfortable situation to rejoin a company that is currently fighting a hostile takeover bid.