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9/6/2002
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IT Confidential

Harrah's Entertainment last week said that Gary Loveman would take over as CEO by year's end. The 42-year-old Loveman is the Harvard business professor who came to Harrah's in 1998 and brought with him sophisticated customer-relationship management, database-marketing, and yield-management strategies. He's credited with establishing Harrah's wildly successful--and widely emulated--Total Rewards customer-loyalty program, which tracks customers' playing habits down to the number of pulls on slot-machine handles. "Gary has been a key driver of our strategy and, more than any other individual, is responsible for enabling Harrah's to achieve our goals over the past four and a half years," says Philip Sartre, Harrah's current CEO. Sartre will remain as chairman of the board.

"Nowhere to go but up." That's how Katrina Roche describes her new employer, niche supply-chain vendor Nonstop Solutions. Roche this week will take over as the company's chief operating officer and president of worldwide operations. Roche knows the software industry: She was the chief marketing officer at Baan from 1998 to 2000, then held the same position at former supply-chain powerhouse i2 Technologies. Roche says she interviewed with Microsoft to manage its .Net server business, but that working with a small company was more appealing. Nonstop was founded in 1996 by Stanford University professor and supply-chain guru Hau Lee, and has backing from venture-capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Roche says Nonstop has 98% of the supply-chain market in the life-sciences and pharmaceuticals industries. "It's a company with a very low profile," she says, but the culture and technology are solid. "We need to scale the business on the sales, marketing, and services side," she says. "That's a fixable problem."

Portal vendor Plumtree Software received an unsolicited offer for all its outstanding stock last week from a holding outfit looking to build a portfolio of healthy companies. Plumtree CEO John Kunze received a letter from Sutter Capital Management stating that the former brokerage firm was interested in acquiring all existing Plumtree stock for $5 a share, a premium of more than $2 over the stock's opening price on Sept. 4. The news plumped Plumtree's stock, sending shares as high as $3.69, they closed the week at $3.07. It may be all over but the shouting by the time you read this--the offer expires Sept. 10--but if Plumtree were to accept the deal it would become a holding of Sutter Opportunity Fund 2. Neither Plumtree nor Sutter would comment on the proposal, but Plumtree acknowledged that its board of directors would evaluate the offer in the time allotted. The deal values Plumtree at less than $150 million, $100 million less than the vendor's valuation following its IPO just 90 days ago.

J.P. Morgan Chase is conducting free training classes this week at its J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Career Center in Manhattan for IT workers laid off because of the Sept. 11 attacks. The program was the brainchild of Ellen Shepard, chief operating officer of Agility Investment Technologies, a financial-systems reseller, who approached execs at InterSystems about providing training on their Cache object-oriented transactional-database system. Cache is widely used in the health-care industry and by such high-profile financial-services companies as J.P. Morgan Chase and Ameritrade. InterSystems and Agility expect about 25 people to attend the classes.

Speaking of Sept. 11 observances, this week's NetWorld+ Interop trade show in Atlanta will be a low-key affair. The once predictably packed event has shrunk in the past couple of years as tech spending plummeted, and the dampening effect of the nation's remembrances will thin crowds even more, show planners said last week. They say the show will pay its respects to the victims of the attack and their families by not having keynote speeches, news conferences, or the usual trade-show festivities on Sept. 11.

No jokes or quips. Just a moment of silence. If you have Sept. 11 thoughts, or an industry tip, send them to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about database marketing, supply-chain systems, or software buyouts, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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