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PeopleSoft's CRM chief leaves for start-up

The business software maker loses Joe Davis, the head of its customer relationship management unit, who has quit to lead start-up Coremetrics.

A key PeopleSoft executive has quit, leaving vacant the top post at PeopleSoft's customer relationship management division.

Joe Davis left his position as general manager of PeopleSoft customer relationship management (CRM) at the end of February to become chief executive of software start-up Coremetrics, Davis told CNET News.com on Tuesday.

The departure was amicable and stemmed from a desire to lead a company--not just a division, according to Davis.

"I wanted to get back to running my own business," he said.

Davis, 45, was responsible for the development, marketing and customer service of PeopleSoft's CRM applications. He was only one management layer removed from PeopleSoft Chief Executive Craig Conway, reporting to Executive Vice President Ram Gupta.

PeopleSoft has yet to replace Davis, who occupied the top CRM post for two years. The business software maker is confident that the leadership transition will be a smooth one, a company representative said.

The CRM unit is one of six core product groups at PeopleSoft, with 300 employees and more than 1,200 customers, Davis said. The company doesn't report revenue by division.

Davis' exit comes at a turbulent time for PeopleSoft. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company is fending off a hostile takeover by rival Oracle and is in the midst of absorbing J.D. Edwards, a competitor it acquired last year. In addition, the market for business software--and CRM software in particular--has been generally rocky for the last few years, with companies becoming more frugal with information technology.

None of these things factored into Davis' decision to leave, he said.

PeopleSoft competes with Oracle, SAP, Siebel Systems and Salesforce.com in the CRM segment. The software is designed to streamline the sales, marketing and customer service activities of large companies and give businesses a complete view of their customers via computer data.

Coremetrics is a privately held subscription software company based in Burlingame, Calif. The company, started in 1999, specializes in analyzing the online behavior of visitors and shoppers at e-retail sites. Eddie Bauer, Victoria's Secret and Williams Sonoma are among its marquee customers.