August 12, 1997 2:00 PM PDT

Infoseek names Les Wright CFO

With the appointment of Les Wright as its chief financial officer, Infoseek (SEEK) has fit one of the last remaining pieces into its management puzzle.

The announcement, made this morning, comes as the search engine and directory service struggles to rebound from a year marred by management disarray and losses.

"We're extremely happy," said an Infoseek spokesperson. "This is one of the key steps in moving forward with the company."

Analysts praised the move as a step toward recovery.

"I think that it's a good start," said Derek Brown, analyst with Volpe Brown Whelan. "We've rated the stock 'neutral' and one of the things we've been waiting for is to get new management in and to see the company's strategic direction. Clearly they're on the right track."

Infoseek's management shake-up began with the resignation May 13 of chief executive officer Robin Johnson. In the months following the ascent of newly appointed president Harry Motro to CEO, more executives handed in their resignations, including CFO and chief operating officer Leonard LeBlanc.

Brown attributed the reorganization to Motro's leadership. "Harry wanted to bring in a new management team before laying out his strategic vision," he said.

Infoseek will come out with major strategy announcements in September, the Infoseek spokesperson said.

Brown cited the second-quarter discontinuation of Infoseek's Corporate Information Division as a beneficial shift in Infoseek strategy. The Washington-based division was created in February in order to target business users and give the company an entree into the push technology market, he said. But Infoseek under Motro came to see the division as logistically difficult, because of its location, and strategically extraneous to Infoseek's core navigation, search, and directory business, Brown said.

Volpe Brown Whelan analyst Andrea Williams also applauded the appointment. "In a young business where things are volatile, where growth is extremely high and expense projections are difficult, the CFO plays a critical role," she said. "Hopefully they've found someone who is not just a warm body but who can competently perform those functions."

Wright, 43, was CFO and COO with Fractal Design from 1994 to this year. Prior to that he was executive vice president and CFO of ASK Group, a software company acquired by Computer Associates in 1994.

 

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