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Borland Returns to Its Roots

Nov 20, 2000, 20:02 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Kevin Newcomb)

By Kevin Newcomb

What's in a name? Years of brand equity, developer loyalty and name recognition, if that name is Borland. Last week, Inprise Corporation announced the culmination of a 6-month refocusing strategy that includes a return to its roots as Borland Software Corporation.

"The Borland name, despite a complete lack of marketing, has continued to be strong in the minds of our customers and developers," Ted Shelton, senior VP business development, told ASP News. "The Inprise name had never really gained ground."

Borland was founded in 1983, and made a name for itself selling developer-focused products like dBASE, Paradox, C and Pascal. Borland touts a community of 2 million developers using its products -- the largest outside of Microsoft, according to Shelton.

"This is one of the great companies of the PC era," Shelton said. "There was a time when Borland's market cap was bigger than Microsoft's."

Borland changed its name to Inprise in April 1998 under chairman and CEO Del Yocam to reflect its growing focus on enterprise computing following its acquisition of Visigenic Software. Yocam resigned in March 1999 after the board of directors requested his resignation, citing philosophical differences regarding the company's growth strategy. Yocam was succeeded by current president and CEO Dale Fuller in April 1999.

Inprise began operating under the combined moniker Inprise /Borland in January 2000. In February 2000, a merger with Corel Corporation was announced in which Inprise/Borland would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Corel, but the deal fell through.

It was at that point that the re-focusing began, and the decision to change the name back to Borland was made. "We determined there was an opportunity to rebuild Borland as a stand-alone business, focusing on developers as our customers, and covering the entire lifecycle of the development process," Shelton said. "Rather than make the change right away, we decided to demonstrate that we had costs under control, and record a couple of profitable quarters, and we've done that."

The legal name of the company will continue to be Inprise Corporation until the name change process has been completed during the first quarter of 2001. The company is de facto referring to itself now as Borland. Once the name change is completed, the company also expects to change its Nasdaq market symbol from "INPR" to "BORL".

With the re-dedication to developers, Borland is also refocusing on its ASP strategy, announced in November 1999. The strategy consists of three layers. The first, a "user layer," provides users with a single point of entry and universal registration system from which to access applications from various ASPs being used within a company. The second, a "transport layer," allows a user to access ASP-hosted applications on different types of devices, removing the complexity of the ASP having to support many different devices. Finally, a "messaging layer" allows different applications from various ASPs to communicate with one another.

To this end, Borland has completed the acquisition of mobile infrastructure developer Bedouin Inc. and created a fourth business unit, Borland Developer Services, to compete in the emerging market for Developer Service Providers (DSP).

Borland Developer Services will leverage Bedouin's expertise in building and deploying e-services, such as team coordination, time tracking and customer relationship management, to deliver a new platform that will allow customers to build, deploy and manage applications via the Internet. With the Borland DSP, users will be able to customize their development environment according to their specific needs.

Development Service Providers, as in the existing ASP marketplace, will provide customers with hosted applications and services. Instead of supporting corporate operations such as human resources or customer relationship management, DSPs will support developers, providing hosted developer services for the complete software development lifecycle.

"In managing large software projects, I often confronted the challenge of providing my staff with a robust set of development lifecycle tools on a distributed basis. In developing the DSP, I saw the opportunity through Bedouin to solve this problem for the ten of thousands of corporate development teams working around the world today," said Patrick J. Kerpan, founder of Bedouin.

Borland plans to locate the Borland Developer Services business unit in Chicago, Illinois. Bedouin brings with it a strong product management and software development team who will form the core management of the new Borland Developer Services division. Leading that team will be Patrick J. Kerpan and Dwight Koop, both enterprise application development veterans and pioneers in the hosted Internet services space. Kerpan will become the vice president and general manager of the new business unit.

Can this refocusing pay off? Only time will tell, but there is definitely excitement in the air at Borland. "There have been several former employees who had resigned coming back and saying, 'I hear Borland is back, and that it's a great place to work again. Can I come back?'" Shelton said.

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