Horn back at helm as Iona reshuffles

15 May 2003

Iona founder Chris Horn has returned to the post of CEO as part of a senior management reshuffle at the middleware company.

The move is aimed at strengthening the ailing firm, following the resignation today of CEO Barry Morris and two other senior management figures. Plunging revenues amidst a major industry downturn recently resulted the company axing over 150 jobs as part of a US$14m restructuring plan.

A spokesman told siliconrepublic.com that the senior management reshuffle was aimed at strengthening the company going forward. “The company has US$75m in cash and investments and is very much determined to drive the business forward,” he said.

Chris Horn, who established the company in 1991 as part of a research project at Trinity College’s Distributed Systems Group, stepped down as CEO in 2000 and his return to the role takes place with immediate effect. Until recently he was chairman of Iona Technologies.

Technology entrepreneur Kevin Melia, who has been on the board of Iona since 1994, will now fill the role of chairman. A spokesman told siliconrepublic.com that, as a senior figure in the technology industry Melia’s reputation would strengthen the company’s perception as well as boost investor confidence. Wicklow native Melia is the founder of global contract electronics manufacturer Manufacturing Services Limited, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Prior to this, Melia held a number of major positions at Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems, where he was chief financial officer and an executive vice president.

In a statement Melia said: “The Board is confident that these changes to the leadership team are in the best interests of the company, as we pursue our strategy to return Iona to sustained profitability as quickly as possible.”

Morris’s departure coincided with the resignation of two other senior management members: chief operating officer Steven Fisch and the executive vice president of corporate development David James.

In a statement, Chris Horn said that the aim of the management reshuffle is to re-energise the company. He added that Iona “is responding to the challenges and opportunities of the changed marketplace, to position the company for profitable growth and to take advantage of market opportunities through business and new product development”.

In a recent interview with siliconrepublic.com, Ovum analyst Neil Ward-Dutton warned that Iona was being endangered by its over dependence on its CORBA middleware technology in the face of a major server market shakeout in favour of J2EE technologies. He also said the firm had been the victim of “too many rebranding exercises”.

In a statement on his resignation, Barry Morris said: “I have enjoyed the challenges of working with Iona, its employees, customers, partners and its products. I feel it is time to move on to a new challenge. It has been a privilege to lead IONA to the height of its success and to manage the company in difficult market conditions. I wish the company every success in its goals of market leadership in the middleware marketplace and I believe that the company has the capacity to succeed in its objective”.

By John Kennedy