Mike Seashols, who departed Unisys Inc’s damp squib application development supplier USoft subsidiary (CI No 3,215) in July, has turned up as chairman of San Mateo systems management software supplier Enlighten Software Solutions Inc. Enlighten, which is trying to offer a departmental rival to enterprise open systems management offerings such as Computer Associates International Inc’s Unicenter TNG or IBM Corp’s Tivoli subsidiary, and which claims 450 customers worldwide, is in the middle of a major transition from proprietary to Unix and NT platforms. Seashols is joined by David Parker as president and chief executive officer, with the pair taking as number one and two in the company from its founder and largest shareholder, Pete McDonald, who stays on as board member and consultant. Seashols has headed up a number of technology companies, not all of which have achieved their full potential apart from USoft, including Documentum Inc and Versant Object Technology Corp (where Parker was at one time his vice president business development; he was also a key figure at artificial intelligence specialist Quintus Computer Systems prior to its sale to Intergraph Corp). Founded in 1986 by McDonald as a provider of management tools for the old Tandem Computers Inc Guardian product range, the company changed its name from Software Professionals Inc in June last year (CI No 2,926) to reflect the uptake, then still nominal at best, of its Enlighten for Unix/Distributed Systems Manager 2.0 product (DSM), which began shipping in May of 1996. The company, as stated, is still in the process of refashioning itself as a seller of low- end out-of-the-box Unix and Windows NT systems management products, after its previously uneventful, but relatively lucrative life (the company was able to go public in 1994 on the back of that business, after all). In June last year the board hired Byron Jacobs, previously of Oracle Corp, as vice president sales and marketing, and though Jacobs has now been ousted by the new regime, he was instrumental in turning the company into less of a private fiefdom for McDonald and more of a product-oriented contender.
Dismissive of its stock
Though overall Enlighten’s figures are generally poor, they do show increasing sales of DSM which have obviously prompted Seashols’ and Parker’s enthusiasm for taking up the challenge. In 1995 it lost $1.3m on revenue of $6.56m, and while in 1996 (its financial year is the same as calendar) its sales slipped 1.2%, to $6.48m, losses, though still substantial at $848,000, were down. This figure was at least partly down to a fourth quarter one time charge of $210,000 for a technology write-off of its earlier purchase of technology, now part of DSM, from Network Partners Inc. For 1995 DSM represented only $57,000 worth of sales; in 1996 that had climbed to $516,000, or 52% of product sales (as opposed to maintenance and consulting for the Tandem side, which accounts for the bulk of Enlighten business). For its first half here in 1997 Enlighten recorded sales of $2.76m, up only 7% from the same period in 1996, though that is mainly explained by a decline in maintenance and consulting from the older Tandem work. Product license fees nearly doubled in the first six months, up $478,000, an increase of 96% year on year, with DSM accounting for $317,000 worth of that $2.67m. It has so far made a net loss of $1.83m for the half year, compared to losses of only $492,000 in the same period in 1996. This is probably why investors have been so dismissive of its stock – in June it fell below the $1 mark, well down from its 52-week high of $6.50 – and while it climbed on the news of the management changes to close at $3.50, it is still under performing, giving the company as a whole a buy price of only $9.38m. Given Seashols’ energy and ability, expect to hear a lot more from the firm, which is now saying it is more interested in co-opetition than straight head to head attack on Unicenter or Tivoli – which given its size is probably a wiser course to steer.