During a three-year stint as chief operating officer, Delbert Yocam helped Apple Computer Inc. boost its operating income sixfold to $600 million. But can he apply a similar golden touch to beleaguered Borland International Inc.?
"I would not have accepted this opportunity unless I was convinced that with its products and its people, I had enough to work with at Borland," said Yocam, 52, who takes over as Borland's chairman and CEO next week.
Yocam, who also helped engineer a turnaround at once-troubled hardware developer Tektronix Inc., believes Borland is positioned to overcome obstacles, ranging from brain-drain to uncertain product positioning. Specifically, he called attention to the company's large user base and the universal need for users to reinvent client/server architectures into robust Internet/intranet systems.
He sees the Delphi tool as the centerpiece of Borland's product line and is confident users will continue to stand behind it.
"There are over 500,000 copies of Delphi out there, and when I talk to developers, they absolutely sing its praises," Yocam said.
Engineering the rollout over the next several months of new client/server versions of software applications, including Delphi, C++ and the first version of the Latte Java development tool, will be a major focus for Yocam as he takes the reins from outgoing interim CEO William Miller.
Miller stepped in to fill the void left after Gary Wetsel resigned in August. Other high-level Borland executives, including former Vice President of Development Paul Gross and Anders Hejlsberg, the brainchild behind Delphi, also have left the company to join Microsoft Corp.
As CEO, Yocam said his first order of business will be to re-evaluate Borland's product line, channel strategies and operating structure from top to bottom, and determine whether there is waste to cut or operating strategies to alter.
He would not comment on whether operational changes in the works would include further layoffs but did not rule out the possibility. Last month Borland announced a restructuring that trimmed its 900-member work force by 15 percent.
The executive, said to have been described by former Apple chief John Sculley as the best operational manager he'd ever employed, also was praised by some other former co-workers.
Former Apple Public Relations Director Barbara Krause described Yocam as "meticulous in the way he approaches his job" and "a very detail-oriented person and a wonderful COO."
His attention to detail will probably come in handy as he attempts to bring Borland, based in Scotts Valley, Calif., back to profitability. The company lost $9.8 million in the last quarter as its sales fell 29 percent. In the previous quarter Borland lost $14.1 million.