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PeopleSoft names president, COO

After months of searching, the business management software maker names Craig Conway as its new president and chief operating officer.

After months of searching for someone to handle day-to-day operations, business management software maker PeopleSoft today announced Craig Conway as its new president and chief operating officer.

The Pleasanton, California-based company said in a statement that Conway, 44, will oversee all of its business operations, including sales, marketing, professional service, customer support, development, finance, and administration.

Not new to the industry, the company said that Conway, former CEO of San Jose, California-based start-up OneTouch Systems, an interactive broadcast network company, also spent eight years as an executive vice president at PeopleSoft competitor Oracle. In addition, Conway served as president and chief executive for TGV Software, an early developer of IP network protocols and applications for corporate intranets and the Internet. At Oracle, he took on a variety of roles, including in marketing, sales, and operations.

"He's a very experienced software executive," said Jim Shepherd, an analyst at AMR Research. "You certainly, under normal circumstances, don't want to bring someone in who doesn't understand the software industry." Shepherd also said that although Conway doesn't directly have experience in enterprise resource planning software, Conway has a solid background built on his experience from Oracle and from "successfully" running two companies.

The move strengthens PeopleSoft's management team as the company extends its product line to the Internet, expands into new markets, and introduces its new Web-based strategy for electronic business--the PeopleSoft Business Network (PSBN), the company said in a statement.

On May 4, PeopleSoft had rolled out the first phase of its e-commerce backbone that will provide the foundation for the PSBN application integration plan. As reported, the company's e7.5 brings additional Internet-related features to PeopleSoft's enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, adding HTML access, and a Web-deployable Microsoft Windows client, available this quarter.

PeopleSoft, which has seen its business suffer lately along with major competitors, such as SAP and Oracle, has also witnessed its share price plunge from a record high of nearly $56 a share in April of last year to Friday's closing price of $16.19.

In its most recent quarters, PeopleSoft and its rivals have all seen revenues and profits injured by a slowdown in the enterprise resource planning software industry due, in part, to companies delaying purchases until next year to avoid any Y2K-related problems, according to Reuters.

Today's announcement also comes after several management changes at PeopleSoft and following layoffs of 430 employees, which the company announced in January of this year.

As previously reported, Al Duffield, CEO Dave Duffield's brother, announced in March that he will step down as senior vice president of field operations and will retire from the company later this year. Last December, Ronald Codd left his position as PeopleSoft's chief financial officer to take over as CEO of Momentum Business Applications, a software research and development company spun off from PeopleSoft.

Shepherd added that PeopleSoft needs to establish some stability in management to reassure the financial community, employees, and customers, especially since the recent shuffle in management.

"From what I know, he's [Conway] a charismatic guy," said Shepherd. "Conway is a good operational guy and has a reputation for building and maintaining good company culture, which is extremely important at PeopleSoft."