I2 Tries To Reassure Shaky Buyers With New Investments - InformationWeek

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I2 Tries To Reassure Shaky Buyers With New Investments

The company's CEO and a private-equity firm sink $120 million into the dot-com-bust survivor.

Strengthening i2 Technologies Inc.'s financial foundation, Sanjiv Sidhu, the software company's chairman, CEO, and founder, this week committed to purchasing $20 million worth of i2 common shares, adding to the roughly 116 million shares he already owned.

Also last week, Q Investments reported a $100 million investment in i2, increasing the private equity firm's cash position to $390 million. Q now holds about 32 million shares of i2 common stock and $9 million worth of convertible debt, giving it an approximately 26% stake in the company.

I2 will use the combined funds to retire debt and increase cash flow. The company's comparatively weak financial position has troubled customers, according to Sidhu. Once the darling of Wall Street analysts, i2 reported $83.6 million in first-quarter revenue, down from $157.9 million year over year. "I2 became successful very fast, and we benefited from the Internet E-commerce bubble," Sidhu says. "When the bubble burst, however, we were left with the cost structure of a much bigger company, including extra offices and people. It took some time to get that behind us. Now we are ready to move on."

News of the investments came during the company's annual user conference, a logical venue in which to try to reassure customers nervous about i2's future. Bruce Richardson, senior VP at AMR Research, says, "Several years from now you will look back at this time to mark it as the company's turnaround." Buyers are refocusing on supply-chain management and data synchronization. "I2 is picking up momentum in the supply-chain space, with more than 1,000 active customers, including strategic agreements with Nokia, Dell, and Infineon," Richardson says.

Still, all agree full recovery won't be easy. Sidhu says i2 is developing products that address supply-chain management, supplier-relationship management, and what the company is calling the "closed-loop supply-chain architecture." He describes the latter as the synchronization of data from various departments within a company and folding in varying market conditions to plan and forecast customer demand.

Sidhu says he uses a method that he calls "plan, do, check, act" that systematically addresses product quality and is adapting it for supply-chain-management techniques. "That takes our traditional planning software modules and extends it to execution software to help carry out the plan, checks how the execution is doing, and helps you debug with root-cause analysis," he says.

I2 also has changed its management lineup. Steven Minisini has assumed the role of executive VP and president of the Americas region. Minisini is taking the role held by Rob Bearden, who is leaving i2, the company said.

Customers will expect immediate results, Sidhu admits, but "before the building is built you have to lay the foundation." Results will come in time. For now, the focus remains on building a financial base, customer confidence and satisfaction, product quality, and quick results from software implementations.

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