PeopleSoft's CEO Steps Down

Event Summary

On September 21, PeopleSoft's President and Chief Operating Officer Craig Conway, 44, took full operational control of PeopleSoft, as its founder Dave Duffield, 58, stepped aside from the day-to-day operations of the company. Duffield is credited with creating an employee- and customer-friendly company, and will remain chairman of the company. Conway came to PeopleSoft in May of this year from OneTouch Systems (San Jose, California), which dealt with broadcast networks and distance learning. Conway also spent eight years at PeopleSoft's rival Oracle (Redwood Shores, California), as a vice president, in a variety of roles, including Marketing, Sales, and Operations.

Market Impact

Conway brings to PeopleSoft a serious corporate image that was sometimes lacking in the laid-back Duffield, who prided himself on having created a company with a family-like atmosphere. PeopleSoft has waned in recent months with plummeting stock prices, vacillating marketing messages, and sluggish sales. The company reported a 61% decline in new license fees and a 92% profit drop in the second quarter of fiscal 1999.

User Recommendations

PeopleSoft is entering a new era, and Chapter 1 of its history book is now closed. A new CEO usually brings a new vision and direction, and we expect the same from Conway, who to this point, primarily addressed tactical issues as COO. Duffield's continued presence as chairman should give assurance to PeopleSoft's employees and current customers that the corporate culture will remain intact. However, organizations currently evaluating PeopleSoft should keep a close eye on PeopleSoft's future product development and support strategies, particularly how top management will address the gaping holes in its latest product suite, including the lack of a customer relationship management (CRM) product and poor market acceptance of its manufacturing software.

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