PeopleSoft Fires CEO, Promotes CFO

Chief executive officer Craig Conway was adamantly opposed to a deal with Oracle.
Stephen TaubOctober 4, 2004

Software maker PeopleSoft Inc., which 16 months ago became an unwilling takeover target of Oracle Corp., on Friday targeted president and chief executive officer Craig Conway for dismissal, effective immediately.

Dave Duffield — PeopleSoft’s founder, chairman, and largest shareholder — will succeed Conway as CEO. Chief financial officer Kevin Parker and Phil Wilmington, reportedly the company’s top sales executive, were named co-presidents. Parker will be responsible for internal operations and will remain CFO, the company added.

According to a PeopleSoft press release, the company’s board of directors said its decision resulted from a loss of confidence in Conway’s ability to continue to lead the company. The release also noted that all of the board’s decisions received the unanimous approval of the independent directors.

The big question now, of course, is whether the executive changes will make it more likely that PeopleSoft will finally agree to a takeover by Oracle, which has raised its bid several times since the original tender offer. Conway was adamantly opposed to a deal, and Friday’s announcement noted that all of PeopleSoft’s decisions regarding the offer had been made been made with the unanimous recommendation of the company’s transaction committee.

Last month a federal judge ruled that the proposed merger would not hurt competition in the software industry, thus rejecting the premise of a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit that sought to block the deal. On the day of the ruling, PeopleSoft’s stock climbed about 11 percent.

On Friday, following the announcement of Conway’s departure, PeopleSoft’s stock surged more than 15 percent.