Network Associates (NAI) is promising to become the listening vendor in an effort to attract customers back after 18 months of turmoil.The company saw a dramatic 62 per cent drop in share price at the end of December 2000 following a period of poor sales which culminated in fourth quarter losses of $147m. NAI is also facing legal action from its shareholders after admitting it had a $120m shortfall in sales. But in an interview with silicon.com, new chief executive George Samenuk promised to return the company to profitability this year with a "maniacal" focus on customers. "It's about visiting customers and understanding their requirements," he said. "I've challenged our 3,100 staff to spend time with customers, listen to customers and take action on those requirements." Samenuk spent 22 years at IBM before leaving last year to become CEO of B2B auction site Tradeout. The move was short lived after the crash in dot-com valuations left Tradeout high and dry without an IPO. Despite that experience, Samenuk believes it was his dot-com credentials that secured his appointment at NAI. He certainly promises a radically different style of leadership from former chief executive Bill Larsen, enthusiastically travelling worldwide within his first few weeks at the helm to drum up customer and employee goodwill. Samenuk is quick to defend his new company against charges of over-stuffing distributors with software and then claiming it as sales. "We've changed our business model to take revenue credit for end user sales, not when it goes into the channel but when it's sold through the channel directly to the customers," he said. "Over the last 18 months the inventory in the channels has been coming down quarter by quarter." According to Samenuk, his job is to restore investor, customer and employee confidence, and he claims to have already seen a dramatic increase in those during his seven weeks at the top. But NAI has a long road to travel before it can shake off its unreliable image and it will take all of Samenuk's energy to succeed.