Informix Software (IFMX)
said today that Phil White has resigned as chairman of the company and
from Informix's board of directors. Bob Finocchio, who replaced White as
CEO nine days ago, has been elected to the chairman's post.
"I agree with the board that the company is best served with one clear
leader to take a new view of the company's direction," White said in a
Just last week, at Informix's annual user conference, White said he
would remain as chairman as long as he felt he was making a contribution
to the company. He said he would relinquish the post if he, the board,
or Finocchio did not see him serving a useful role.
White has been under fire recently from angry shareholders; some called
for his resignation at the annual meeting in May. Investors blame White
for Informix's sinking fortunes in recent months, as it focused its
marketing and technical efforts on its new object-relational Universal
Server, while scaling back efforts on its bread-and-butter Online
Dynamic Server database.
The company reported an unexpected first-quarter loss of $140.1 million,
as revenue plunged 34 percent to $133.7 million.
In April, Informix was slapped with a handful of shareholder lawsuits as
the company's financial disclosures came under increased scrutiny. The
suits alleged that Informix and certain of its officers and directors
violated federal securities laws by misrepresenting the company's
earnings growth potential. The suit also alleges that the company
reported inflated and deceptive earnings because of improperly
The company also took on rival Oracle (ORCL). Informix accused the No. 1 database maker of
hiring away 13 former Informix engineers and alleged they took trade
secrets about a forthcoming database product with them. Informix withdrew the charges in June.
"The move to get White out of the CEO role was necessary, given the lack
of credibility he had following last year's accounting issues," said
Andrew Brosseau, an analyst with Cowen &
Company. Brosseau added that it
may have been hard for White to keep the role of chairman with Finnocchio as CEO, as it would be hard to tell who was in control.
Brosseau sees the move as positive, but says Informix still has a tough road
ahead. "This doesn't mean that anything will get easier, regardless of
who is on top at Informix. They have to reestablish credibility and
momentum against two tough competitors--Oracle and Microsoft. They are
the ones that are really growing and can make life difficult for
Informix," he said.