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Goodbye, Mr. Chips: AMD Finance Chief Jumps to BroadVision

Other jumps: Former Dell executive named interim finance chief at Western Digital, ex-Monsanto manager hired as CFO at Tripos.
Jennifer CaplanOctober 24, 2001
  • Fran Barton has been named CFO at business-software vendor BroadVision Inc. Barton replaces Randall Bolten, who resigned in July after the Redwood City, California-based company reported a larger-than-expected loss in the second quarter. Around the time of Bolten’s departure, management at BroadVision also announced it was laying off nearly a third of the company’s workforce.

    Barton is an experienced hand in the computer and semiconductor business. He joins BroadVision from chip-maker Advanced Micro Devices, where he was SVP and CFO. During his tenure at AMD, Barton helped the company boost revenues dramatically. Indeed, AMD reported a record turnover of $4.6 billion in 2000. Prior to joining AMD, Barton was vice president and CFO at rival chip maker Amdahl Corporation, where he played a big role in returning the semiconductor manufacturer to profitability following four straight years of losses. Before getting into the clean-room sector, Barton spent 22 years at Digital Equipment Corporation, serving as vice president and CFO for Digital’s personal-computer division. Barton is a veteran of the U.S. Army and served as a Green Beret. He holds an M.B.A. in finance from Northeastern University and a B.A. in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

    Although his predecessor has already instituted some cost-cutting measures, Barton will have his hands full trying to steer BroadVision back to profitability. The software maker reported second-quarter revenues of $57 million, down considerably from the $95 million earned during the same quarter the year before. BroadVision posted a pro forma net loss of $53 million (19 cents per diluted share) compared with a pro forma net income of $11 million (4 cents per diluted share) in the second quarter of 2000. A $123 million restructuring charge was taken this year to cover severance costs and real-estate consolidations. The company will disclose third-quarter results later this week.

  • Managers at Western Digital Corp., a Lake Forest, California- based maker of computer hard drives, named D. Scott Mercer interim finance chief. He succeeds Terry Hopp, who resigned earlier this year.

    Mercer served as CFO of Western Digital from 1991 to 1996, before joining Dell Computer, where he held operations and finance positions from 1997 to 2000. Prior to that, he was CFO of LSI Logic, a provider of semiconductors. He is responsible for finding a permanent CFO.

    Although Western Digital posted a narrower loss in the fourth quarter than it did in the same period last year, revenues were still down, and the company is still in the red. In Q4, Western Digital reported revenues of $456 million, down slightly from $474 million in the same period a year prior. The hard-drive maker posted a net loss of $9 million (5 cents per share), before nonrecurring items, compared with a $26 million (19 cents per share) loss in 2000. Including nonrecurring charges of $52 million, the total net loss for the fourth quarter was $61 million, or 34 cents per share. This quarter, Western Digital will begin delivering its hard drives to Microsoft for use in the company’s new Xbox video game system. If the xBox takes off, it could go a long way in boosting the bottom line at Western Digital.

  • Jose Segrera has been promoted to CFO of Terremark Worldwide Inc., a Miami-based provider of Internet infrastructure and managed services. Segrera has been with the company since August of 2000. Prior to that, he worked at First Com, now AT&T Latin America.

    Despite a considerable spike in revenue, Terremark is still losing money and has been forced to borrow considerable amounts of cash in recent months. In the first quarter of 2001, consolidated revenue jumped to $5.5 million, a whopping 221 percent over the same quarter the previous year. Net losses, however, skyrocketed to $8 million, compared with $5.5 million in the same period a year earlier.

    To help plug the gaps, management recently issued $9.8 million in debt, obtained $11.5 million in short-term loans from executive management and shareholders, and secured $2.9 million of vendor financing. In early September the company also obtained a $48 million credit facility from Ocean Bank in Florida.

  • Jim Rubin has been brought on board as the new CFO at Tripos Inc., a St. Louis-based provider of software and services for life-sciences industries. Rubin joins the company from Influence LLC, an E-business technology and consulting firm, where he was CFO and COO. Before joining Influence, Rubin headed the corporate strategy group at Monsanto, where he helped manage its merger with Pharmacia. Prior to that, he led Monsanto’s agricultural research group, and served as a director in the company’s mergers and acquisitions group.

    Rubin appears to be stepping into slightly more comfortable shoes than many of his CFO colleagues. In the second quarter, revenues at Tripos shot up to $10.6 million, a 93 percent increase over the same period last year. Second quarter net income came in at $2 million, compared with a net loss of $1.4 million in Q2 of 2000. In addition, Tripos management recently announced that the company would meet analysts’ third-quarter earnings estimates of 6 to 7 cents per share. That’s a much narrower loss than the 17 cents-per-share loss recorded in the same period a year ago. Tripos is expected to announce third-quarter results later this week.