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VMware hires away Borland CEO

Tod Nielsen to become COO at virtualization company where he hooks up with former boss from his Microsoft days, VMware CEO Paul Maritz

Tod Nielsen just can't hold a job.

Actually, peripatetic is the better description. VMware on Tuesday named Nielsen to be its chief operating officer, his sixth different company since the millennium.

Tod Nielsen

Nielsen had been Borland's chief executive since November 2005. Before that, the garrulous 43-year-old held executive roles at Oracle, BEA Systems, and Microsoft. He also served a stint as CEO of Crossgain, before a noncompete snit with Microsoft forced him to step aside. BEA later acquired Crossgain.

In the role of VMware's COO, a newly created job, Nielsen will be reporting to CEO Paul Maritz, his former colleague--and boss--at Microsoft, where he worked for a dozen years.

Maritz said in a statement that the appointment would free him up to concentrate in other areas while Nielsen would focus on business, marketing, and operations. "Having worked closely with Tod in the past, I know that we will work effectively together and complement each other," he said.

He can use the help. VMware, one of 2007's hottest IPOs, has lost a lot of its early luster since then. The company faces increased competition in the virtualization market from Microsoft, IBM, Xen, and Oracle--and then there's the overhang of a deepening recession.

While at Microsoft, Nielsen played a minor role in the months-long courtroom drama when the U.S. Justice Department sued Microsoft for antitrust violations. When Microsoft's witnesses first began taking the stand, they wilted during the eviscerating cross-examination of lead attorney David Boies. At that point, Microsoft flew Nielsen out from Redmond to provide needed technical hand-holding.

Separately, Borland announced Tuesday that it was cutting its workforce by about 15 percent, or 130 employees. It also said that preliminary fourth-quarter revenue would fall between $38.5 million to $40 million. The company previously had forecast full year revenue of $180 million to $200 million. Erik Prusch was named acting president and CEO to replace Nielsen; he had been CFO.