Q&A: CEO Michael Cowpland on drawing the new Corel

Corel president and CEO Michael Cowpland is the power behind one of the sharpest software companies in the world. Revenues earned by the CorelDraw juggernaut are now taking the company in several directions, most notably behind Java and into application suites, both of which roads end with Microsoft.

Corel president and CEO Michael Cowpland is the power behind one of the sharpest software companies in the world. Revenues earned by the CorelDraw juggernaut are now taking the company in several directions, most notably behind Java and into application suites, both of which roads end with Microsoft. PCDN spoke to Cowpland on a flying visit to London.

PCDN: Corel has moved so sharply recently. Can you sum up your market position?

We're toe to toe with Microsoft in applications, we're number one in retail and we're holding on in illustration with about 85 per cent of the market. We're moving into Macintosh, CAD, consumer. In multimedia we have the lead in clip-art. Videoconferencing is a key development area for us. So is Java, and even Java groupware with a write once, play anywhere program that we're finalising a deal for on Thursday.

It's an incredibly diverse strategy...

It is, but it's a great opportunity. [The programs] assist each other. The teams are totally separate but they can exchange ideas. In CorelDraw 7, one of the features that people most liked was the Property Bar, and now that's going into the next version of the WordPerfect suite in March.

The success rate speaks for itself. Four months in a row we've beaten Microsoft in US retail which is the toughest market of them all. The new version of CorelDraw is the best received ever so people can't say we're losing focus. We have a development team of close to 1,000 people

Maybe some people are surprised that it's Corel that is moving onto so many hot buttons. Do you have the financial muscle to sustain it?

Absolutely. What counts is the number of developers. We don't need cash, we're not making silicon. In software, all you can do with cash is put it in the bank. At the end of this quarter we'll have more cash than at the beginning.

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