Corporate Profile - Computer Associates International: The Generation Game ; Charles Wang Made Computer Associates International the World's Third-Biggest Software House. He Earned More Than Any Other Boss. but He Was Always Overshadowed by His Rivals. So, in a Shock Move, He Handed over His Company to His 38-Year-Old Deputy. Can Sanjay Kumar Overcome Their Identity Problem?
McIntosh, Bill, The Independent (London, England)
Computer Associates International has an identity problem. With annual revenues of $6bn (pounds 4.2bn), it ranks number three among pure software companies after Microsoft and Oracle. Its products are used by everyone from power-plant engineers and designers of e- commerce websites to the McLaren FI racing drivers, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Unlike its bigger brothers, however, CA is little known beyond the corporate computing engineers who use its software.
Not that CA, based in sprawling, campus-styled headquarters in Islandia, Long Island, New York, is without the quintessential larger-than-life billionaire founder. In CA's case he is Charles Wang (pronounced Wong, pictured below), its founder and chairman.
Although his public profile pales in comparison to Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, Mr Wang, a youthful-looking 56, made headlines last year as the world's highest paid boss. His remuneration, including bonuses, options and salary, came in at around $650m, give or take a few tens of millions. That puts Mr Wang a long way from Shanghai, which he left aged eight with his family in 1952. That early dislocation and the fact that Mr Wang's father was a Chinese judge, who had to start again in the United States, helps to explain the son's no-nonsense determination and plain-speaking, even abrasive, manner.
Founded in 1976, just one year after Microsoft, CA has grown from a single product enterprise, with Mr Wang and four other employees, into a global giant, largely as a result of 70 acquisitions. That method of growth has earned CA a reputation for being the scavenger of the software industry. It also has a reputation for ruthlessness, both in slashing staff numbers as it integrated acquisitions and in cajoling customers, sometimes through the courts, to enforce long- term contracts.
Then, in August, Mr Wang stunned Wall Street by relinquishing the chief executive officer post to Sanjay Kumar, the company's Sri Lankan-born 38-year-old president and chief operating officer. Yet another shock was delivered last week when Mr Kumar turned the company's business plan inside out and vowed to focus on about one- third of its 1,200-strong range of software products, while waxing earnestly about returning choice to customers. The new strategy will see CA dump its software licensing model, replacing it with a super- flexible, pay-as-you-go approach that will allow business customers to rent programmes on a monthly basis with no tie-in period.
"It's the most important decision we've announced in the last five years and may be the most important for the next five years," Mr Kumar said. "The way we sell and the way we interact with customers will change radically. We will offer customers different ways to procure software. They will be able to commit one month at a time. We are the first large enterprise software company to do this."
Part of the reason for CA's relative anonymity is that it operates in the non-flashy mainframe and networking market. Its products help large corporations get the most from their vast data- processing systems that deliver computing scale and functionality far surpassing PCs. CA's software empire divides into three broad categories: systems management, database and development tools and applications like anti-virus security software.
The company aims to create software products that give corporate managers a single, comprehensive view into all of their computers and networks so they can be managed centrally. That helps network managers pinpoint and repair trouble spots before they damage an organisation's ability to do business. Such systems also let companies control computing policy, for example, ensuring that workers are only using certified software.
The company's most nifty product is Unicenter The Next Generation, or TNG in CA parlance. TNG was created to give companies a …
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Publication information: Article title: Corporate Profile - Computer Associates International: The Generation Game ; Charles Wang Made Computer Associates International the World's Third-Biggest Software House. He Earned More Than Any Other Boss. but He Was Always Overshadowed by His Rivals. So, in a Shock Move, He Handed over His Company to His 38-Year-Old Deputy. Can Sanjay Kumar Overcome Their Identity Problem?. Contributors: McIntosh, Bill - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 1, 2000. Page number: 3. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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