When in trouble, throw a senior exec out on his ear

We've tried everything else, now off with his head...

We've tried everything else, now off with his head...

Ariba has done it - on more than one occasion, i2 has done it and now Commerce One is at it. It being the senior management reshuffle. It's simple really. You put one new, keen, cost-cutting manager in, you take one old, money- spending manager out, you shake it all about, and then you hope and pray that next quarter's figures look much better than the last. In the case of Commerce One they couldn't look much worse. The B2B vendor posted a whopping $2bn loss in the last quarter. Admittedly it looked like loose change beside Nortel's mighty $20bn loss, but for a little league player like Commerce One it burnt a big hole in company coffers. The $2bn loss is no doubt the reason behind the departure yesterday of Commerce One chief strategy officer Chuck Donchess. Taking over from Chuck at the strategic helm of Commerce One is former MIT academic Alexis de Raadt-St. James. CEO Mark Hoffman is obviously hoping her performance will be as impressive as her name. The press release heralding the new recruit is brief and to the point. Raadt-St James will oversee long-term market and product development and will answer directly to Hoffman himself. That's it - no elaboration on what exactly those long-term development plans will be. There is the sense that in the current environment the finger of blame had to be pointed somewhere. Poor Chuck, but now he's gone it seems no one's quite sure what happens next. Commerce One isn't the only one in the dark. At an Ariba user conference earlier this summer, then CEO Larry Mueller unveiled Ariba's value chain management strategy. Rumours of bankruptcy and buyouts hung ripe in the air following the collapse of the Agile merger. The record obviously had to be set straight. Six weeks later Mueller's out and Krach's back in. Possibly his comments at a recent conference call that 'marketplaces are dead' just didn't ring true for those who hire and fire at Ariba. But credit must go to i2 CEO Greg Brady. In a July conference call, following disappointing second quarter results the man bravely admitted: "We have no idea where the market is going." Honesty may not always be the best policy, but you know what, he's still got the job.