January 6, 2000 11:50 AM PST

Lotus CEO Papows resigns

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Jeff Papows Jeff Papows, the embattled chief executive of software maker Lotus Development, said today he is resigning, effective Feb. 1.

Al Zollar, a 23-year IBM veteran, will replace Papows as president and CEO effective next month. Papows, who has been at Lotus for seven years, will stay with the firm through the second quarter to assist in the transition.

Papows has been surrounded by controversy this year. In May, he was named in a sexual discrimination complaint filed by a former Lotus executive.

In April, a Wall Street Journal story profiled Papows as an ambitious executive who may have lied about his educational background, military service record and personal history in order to advance his career and Lotus' sales.

"I have come to this decision after a great deal of very difficult reflection about where Lotus is right now and about my own future," Papows wrote in an email sent to Lotus employees today. "I would like once again to lead an independent organization. It would not be fair to you, our customers or IBM for me to pursue that objective while continuing as your CEO."

Papows said he is leaving to lead an independent company, which he did not identify.

Sam Albert, president of Albert Associates and an industry analyst who follows IBM closely, said he doesn't think any of the earlier negative news had anything to do with Papows' decision.

"He has done a stellar job at Lotus," Albert said. "The results are [there to see]. They speak for themselves."

The appointment of Zollar to CEO does not represent a desire by IBM to have more control over Lotus, Albert said. "IBM's model is to let its acquisitions go their own course. And I think Lotus will continue with its great performance."

Lotus competes with Microsoft in the groupware market. The company began shipping its groupware product, Notes/Domino R5, earlier this year after several delays.

Under Papows' leadership, Lotus Notes' installed base has grown from 2.2 million in 1995 to more than 50 million users today, IBM claims.

"He has tirelessly pursued a successful strategy to expand the Lotus customer base, despite fierce competition from Microsoft," John Thompson, general manager of IBM's White Plains, N.Y., division, wrote in an email to Lotus employees today.

 

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