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Scient snares big name execs

With three new big name executives, the start-up computer services firm is targeting three segments of the "e-business" market for consulting.

With three high-visibility executives in the fold, start-up computer services firm Scient is targeting three segments of the "electronic business" market for consulting engagements.

Barely six months old, Scient and its blue-chip venture capital supporters are already talking seriously about an initial public offering sometime next year--and fending off Wall Street firms hungry for its business.

"We define e-business consulting as touching every aspect of doing business with the new electronic technology, especially the Internet, but including call centers and mobile devices," said Christopher Lochhead, Scient's chief marketing officer.

The technology services firm will focus on financial services companies, Internet start-ups building exclusively Web-based business, and companies sorting out how online distribution will affect their existing channels.

Scient's services will include strategy consulting, systems integration, and outsourcing.

Scient CEO Robert Howe, who most recently ran IBM's multibillion-dollar consulting practice in financial services, has recruited as board members Mort Meyerson, former vice chairman of rival EDS and ex-chairman of Perot Systems, and Fred Gluck, a former managing director of management consultants McKinsey & Company.

They join board member David Beirne, the CEO-recruiter-turned-venture-capitalist from Benchmark Capital, which, along with Sequoia Capital and Stanford University, is bankrolling Scient.

Although the company's mission is somewhat similar to another hot Internet start-up, USWeb, Lochhead said Scient differs, in part because USWeb focuses on Web consulting gigs, while Scient's purview is broader. Also, while Scient plans some acquisitions, it won't pursue USWeb's grow through acquisitions strategy.

Instead, Scient sees its competitors primarily as the electronic business arms of mainstream consultancies like Andersen Consulting.

Other rivals include industry-specific consulting practices such as American Management Systems, which yesterday announced an Internet and e-commerce consulting practice targeted to electric and gas utilities.

Eric Greenberg, Scient's 33-year-old Scient founder and chairman, also was involved with launching another consulting firm, Silicon Valley Internet Partners, which recently changed its name to Viant.