Tarantella has long lived in the shadows. Its Unix-based software, which provides remote access to applications running on Unix, Linux, mainframe and even Windows servers, has a fraction of the market enjoyed by its Windows-based competitor from Citrix.
In terms of exposure, the company pales in comparison to the SCO Group which, as Caldera Systems in 2001, acquired the name along with the operating systems division of the original SCO, within which Tarantella was then just one of several products.
The purchase of New Moon Systems in summer of 2003, was designed to give Tarantella a foot into Windows shops that don’t have the expertise or the desire to run the Unix-based heavyweight Tarantella product. Then, in December, the board of directors accepted a proposition from IBM and Dell veteran Frank Wilde, previously CEO of Ravisent Technologies, a Deloitte Fast 50 company. His plan was to bring in money plus a new management team to revamp the marketing, get the company back into profitability and get it re-listed on the NASDAQ.
On the day that Tarantella announced the arrival of the new cash reserves, ZDNet UK caught up with Wilde to find out where the money came from, how it will be used, and what the plan is now.
Q: First, can you talk about how you came to be chief executive of Tarantella?
A: I have been at the company for two months now. Before I came here I was looking at a variety of companies and wanted to bring a team of people to one that we felt was significantly undervalued.
Tarantella was one of seven companies that fitted the criteria we wanted. The more we talked to Tarantella, the more we saw that it has a great number of enterprise customers, excellent products and excellent distribution channels, yet was never able to capitalize and turn a profit. I felt we could do good job in sales, marketing and product development programmes. So I approached the board with that programme.
How did the board respond?
They felt it was great alternative. They felt we need to get the company into profitability. Doug [Michels, the former chief executive who remains at the company as a strategic advisor] had led an effort that built great products, but my charter is to take the company forward on a balanced programme of building a business. This was very well received by the board. We wanted to be able to move forward in a way that solved three challenges:
- 1. to get the company relisted and trading on the stock exchange
- 2. to get the company to have a strong balance sheet and cash for future growth
- 3. to implement programmes that could enable the company to become profitable
Over the past 60 days we have made big progress over points two and three. Of the $16.4m investment, over $15m will be net proceeds for the company. We will have a lot of cash on the balance sheet and this will help customers who are concerned about buying from company that did not previously have strong financial backing. We have also done substantial work necessary to get the company re-listed.
What timeline are you looking at?
It is our goal to be profitable by the end of the year on quarterly basis. We only have 100 people in the company, so operating expenses on a quarter-by-quarter basis are not that far away from profitability.