Former Borland director still advocating shake-up

Shareholder and former director of software maker renews push to have board members held more accountable for poor performance.

Matt Hines
Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
2 min read
A former director at Borland Software detailed his call for a change in how the company maintains its board of directors.

Robert Coates, a former board member who continues to own what he calls a large number of shares in the company, issued a statement Friday outlining and reemphasizing his push to have the company's stockholders play a larger role in appointing directors. In late 2003, Coates filed a proxy that proposed that Borland's board members should be elected annually by the company's shareholders.

Borland representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Coates' latest statement.

Coates maintains that Borland CEO Dale Fuller and other board members have done an insufficient job of guiding the maker of integration, management and software development tools. Despite posting a first-quarter profit of 5 cents per share in late April, the company reported that it has had trouble closing deals with customers and said it expects to report a net loss for the second quarter of 19 cents to 21 cents per share, including a restructuring charge. Borland's second quarter ends in June 2005.

Reached by phone, Coates said Fuller has placed too much blame on regional sales managers for the company's earnings shortcomings, and he said the executive has not taken enough responsibility for the situation. Coates also blamed Fuller for what he called excessive turnover of employees at the company and called for the ouster of former Borland Chairman William F. Miller, who remains one of the company's directors.

"As Borland's CEO, Dale Fuller has consistently ducked responsibility for his own repeated failures to execute and refuses to take responsibility for the performance of his own management team," Coates said in the statement. "Instead, he has repeatedly blamed the very people he hired and initially expressed confidence in for Borland's setbacks while simultaneously being rewarded with lavish stock option grants and compensation above the industry average."

Coates claims that his proxy won an overwhelming victory among Borland's shareholders in 2004, at which time the company's board proposed a second vote on the issue. The results of that vote will be tallied and announced next week at Borland's annual shareholder meeting on May 13.

In February, Borland introduced a revamped product line in hopes of giving software developers a suite of interlinked tools tailored to the specific tasks they do. The move follows similar strategies employed by the company's rivals, specifically IBM and Microsoft, which are also building tool suites for teams of programmers.