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10/4/2002
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IT Confidential: A Name, A Degree--What's Really Real

It's a move one analyst describes as the equivalent of former Boston Red Sox star Roger Clemens pitching for the rival New York Yankees. The hiring of Bill McDermott, most recently executive VP of worldwide sales at Siebel Systems, as CEO of SAP America is a key development in SAP AG's efforts to meet co-chairman and CEO Hasso Plattner's goal of becoming the dominant customer-relationship management vendor, says Louis Columbus, a senior analyst at AMR Research. McDermott brings experience selling to corporate customers, something SAP was seeking for its U.S. operation, Columbus says. "This is a real strong shot in the arm."

Charles Levine, president of Sprint PCS, will retire and "relocate to his ranch in California," according to the company. Levine was named chief operating officer of Sprint PCS in January 2000, and became president in February of last year. He'll be replaced by Len Lauer, president of Sprint's global markets group and a veteran of IBM and Bell Atlantic. Two weeks ago, Sprint PCS offered mixed guidance for its financial future, saying it had won new business clients but has seen an unexpectedly high number of individual customers cut off for nonpayment of bills. Sprint now expects to see a modest loss in customers during the third quarter, its first-ever decline in subscribers.

Veritas Software said last week that its CFO, Ken Lonchar, resigned because he had "misstated his educational credentials, including incorrectly claiming to have received an MBA from Stanford University," according to a statement. The CFO spot at Veritas, a storage-management software vendor, will be filled in the interim by Jay Jones, senior VP and chief administrative officer. The company expects to name a new CFO by year's end. "While Ken's misstatement about his academic credentials is unfortunate, it has no bearing on the accuracy of our financial results or the quality of our financial procedures and controls," president and CEO Gary Bloom says.

The name game continues. KPMG Consulting last week changed its name to BearingPoint. The consulting firm chose the name from a list of 550 submitted by employees and brand analysts. In July, Deloitte Consulting said it had chosen a new name--Braxton--and will begin using it later this year when its separation from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is complete. Deloitte is touting Braxton, which it inherited when it acquired Braxton Associates in 1984, as a "real name," not something made up. "Let's face it--the world is tired of coined, invented, and whimsical corporate names," said Brian Fugere, Deloitte Consulting's chief marketing officer, in a statement. He didn't name any names.

I'm not tired of whimsical corporate names--I don't know any. Melodramatic, yes. Whimsical, no. If you know a whimsical corporate name, or an industry tip, send it to jsoat@cmp .com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about branding or resumé plumping, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post.

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