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Technology / AI and automation


As reported briefly, Novell Inc last week named Hewlett-Packard Co vice-president Robert Frankenberg, 46, to succeed the legendary Ray Noorda, Microsoft Corp’s most ardent foe, as president and chief executive (CI No 2,388). Noorda, who will reportedly be involved and available, remains chairman for the time being. Novell has dissolved the office of president, created last year, and its members, chief financial officer Jim Tolonen and chief operating officer Mary Burnside, now report to Frankenberg. At his debut, said to have been attended by 400 members of the press, Frankenberg proposed to meet the Microsoft challenge by going where they aren’t and have difficulty following, referring to the company’s networking skills.

Not a Mormon

Frankenberg, who is not a Mormon though he will head a Mormon company, joined Hewlett-Packard 25 years ago, fresh out of school, and ended as vice-president and general manager of its Personal Information Products Group, responsible for its personal computer business since 1991. He is credited with boosting Hewlett-Packard’s market share by pushing its personal computers through new channels. He also headed the group that developed Hewlett-Packard’s NewWave application environment, OpenMail, NewWave Office and other integrated office products. The experience should prove valuable considering he is now faced with integrating WordPerfect Corp, and Borland International Inc’s spreadsheet business, into Novell, an Augean task. He must also figure out how to handle Unix, which Novell bought last year from AT&T Co, while staving off the onslaught of Microsoft from Novell’s core business. Kanwal Rekhi, a moving force behind the Unix acquisition and the company’s chief technical officer, as well as David Bradford, chief in-house counsel and a thorn in Microsoft’s side, now also report to Frankenberg. WordPerfect president Ad Rietveld will run an application group. The Wall Street Journal described Frankenberg as one of only a handful of executives with the technical breath and management expertise necessary to lead Novell. He is understood to have been approached earlier by Sun Microsystems Inc to become president of its hardware arm, Sun Microsystems Computer Corp. In the three weeks since Novell announced its intention to buy WordPerfect – a decision that apparently determined Frankenberg’s acceptance because it makes possible a new category of networked applications – the firm’s stock has plummeted 25% out of concerns that it is over-paying and that WordPerfect’s sales have been stagnating. The company may have been ill-advised to expose Frankenberg to the glare of the press the instant he was appointed however – after he tried to master their questions, Wall Street’s Alex Brown & Sons downgraded Novell’s stock because the company has no direction. Frankenberg’s appointment is claimed to give Noorda more time to consider strategies to get the better of Microsoft.

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CBR Staff Writer

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