BEA's Coleman turns over the reins

The chief executive officer of e-business software maker BEA, Bill Coleman, has turned the post over to the company's president...

The chief executive officer of e-business software maker BEA, Bill Coleman, has turned the post over to the company's president and chief operations officer Alfred Chuang.

"Alfred is the boss. He runs the show," Coleman said.

Coleman will now take on the newly created job of chief strategy officer while also remaining chairman. He said that turning over the chief executive officer post had been his intention since Chuang became chief operations officer two years ago.

"It's been my desire to do this since day one. I have been pretty public about this since I first came up with the concept in 1993. My personal goal is to do something in a small way like David Packard did in a big way, and that is build a company that is built to last, and when I'm in my mid-50s, back out of day-to-day operations," Coleman said.

With Chuang running day-to-day operations, Coleman will take on a two-part role. The first, he said, would be to look at where the company will be in two to five years, what its challenges are and how to lead the market. The second job would be to work with key partners and customers to keep BEA on top of the application server market.

Analyst firms have said that BEA's lead over its rival IBM is shrinking yearly. BEA also faces some heavyweight challenges from iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions and even Oracle. While both lag behind in the current race, each is expected to gain more market share in the coming years.

But Coleman maintained that BEA had already won the application server battle. "I basically think we've already beat IBM in the enterprise. Every win we have is a win against IBM. All the big telephone companies, whether NTT Communications, Verizon, Qwest or virtually all the big banks they've had: they were 100% IBM accounts two years ago, and now all the new stuff is really being built on us."

BEA has set its sights on being the number one partner for all systems integrators and server vendors.

Coleman added that BEA would continue to build its application server stack, with the aim of turning it into an end-to-end e-business solution.

"We're getting ready to launch a whole new strategic phase of BEA. I think it will be as powerful as when we went from Tuxedo to WebLogic," he said. "It's part of the strategy we have developed over the last year. It's not only end-to-end from a platform point of view, but for everybody who touches it, from development and deployment to operations."

While adamant that BEA is the application server market victor, Coleman said that the company still had some growing to do.

"We come from the Silicon Valley's drive-by selling model. If we're going to be the company we want to be, we've got to get to the IBM value-partner model," he said.

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