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August 29, 2006updated 19 Aug 2016 10:09am

Borland CEO on firm’s “tough year”

Borland Software's new CEO, Tod Nielsen, told me that despite this being a "tough year" for the company, he believes it is now addressing the most "significant opportunity Borland has ever had."That opportunity is application lifecycle management,

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Borland Software’s new CEO, Tod Nielsen, told me that despite this being a “tough year” for the company, he believes it is now addressing the most “significant opportunity Borland has ever had.”

That opportunity is application lifecycle management, ALM, or more specifically Borland’s take on the topic, which it calls Software Delivery Optimization.

Nielsen — who has worked previously at Microsoft, BEA and Oracle — took over from former CEO Dale Fuller in November last year, after Fuller resigned his post on the announcement of a poor quarter’s numbers.

Nielsen soon took the decision to spin off the company’s developer tools business to concentrate on ALM, and also ordered a restructuring that will see a headcount reduction of 300 employees, or about 20% of its regular full-time staff.

“We had two sales office in New Zealand,” Nielsen explained when I met him in London the other day. “I never met a software company with a direct sales office in New Zealand, but we had two. We need to focus on our core markets and pull back to having a direct presence where we need it. Then use resellers and the channel where we don’t.”

While Borland has said the sale of its tools business is still progressing as expected it is yet to announce a buyer. Nielsen concedes that this will be a tough year for Borland, since it is faced with completing the sale of the tools business, the restructuring, a plan to get back into profitability in its fourth quarter as well as the integration of a number of acquisitions.

But despite these challenges Nielsen is confident that Borland has an independent future ahead of it. “Will the history books say Borland blew up or will they say we came through it and were resurrected?” he asks. “I like to think we came through the valley of death and that like Apple, we can have our own new chapter.”

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The company’s attempts at resurrection so far have centered on that ALM proposition, and it has been busily bolstering its software portfolio in that space with several acquisitions, the most recent and probably most significant being the acquisition of testing tools software vendor Segue earlier this year.

Nielsen believes that the company’s portfolio enables it to target a big opportunity: “I think this is going to be huge,” he says. “There is a need for trend independent or run-time independent development approaches. People have done lots of work on run-time technologies but software development is that last bastion that no one has tackled. I don’t think that it’s a fad that is going to go away. There will always be a need for pre-deployment technologies. We are going to re-establish ourselves as thought leaders in ALM.”

“This will be a tough year for us,” Nielsen adds. “There is lots of transformation. But for companies that want to win as a software company you have to move – I’m letting my actions speak for me.”

You can read a longer interview with Nielsen as well as hear from several of Borland’s competitors in the feature article I wrote for the August issue of CBR, here.

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