eVolution at eBreviate

Interim president takes over, emphasizes relationship with Kearney

Walnut Creek, CA  August 1, 2001  Recent management changes at eBreviate reflect the company's evolution from startup mode into a more mature business and augur changes in the company's strategy for marketing and developing its suite of e-sourcing tools, the software provider's temporary chief said in an interview this week.

In a press release issued July 27, eBreviate announced the appointment of A.T. Kearney veteran Tom Slaight as interim president, replacing Niul Burton, who resigned from the company "to pursue new interests," according to the eBreviate statement.

Along with Slaight, Burton was one of eBreviate's co-founders. Sarah Pfaff, another co-founder, also has resigned from her position executive vice president of sales, marketing and strategy for the company. Neither Burton nor Pfaff could be reached for comment.

Slaight will continue in his position as vice president of strategic sourcing at A.T. Kearney, the management consultancy with which eBreviate shares its parent-company EDS. The process of hiring a new president for eBreviate probably will take "less than six months, more than two months," Slaight said in an interview this week.

In the interview, Slaight said it was regrettable, if not entirely surprising, that Burton and Pfaff elected to leave eBreviate at this juncture. "We're disappointed that Niul and Sarah have left us, but that's something that happens in startup companies," he said, adding, "It's been happening more often since the March 2000 stock-market meltdown."

Slaight went on to praise his erstwhile colleague's contribution to the development of eBreviate, saying: "We appreciate the efforts that they put forth for the company. They are well regarded." Slaight agreed with the suggestion that the management change reflected eBreviate's evolution from a startup mode to a more mature business mode.

In addition to the Slaight appointment, eBreviate also named Luke Saban, formerly the company's chief financial officer and head of European operations, as chief operating officer and executive vice president.

eBreviate will be moving to tighten its relationship with A.T. Kearney, according to Slaight. "We're trying to do what we can to strengthen the relationship with A.T. Kearney, particularly in North America," he said, adding that strategic sourcing constitutes about 25 percent of revenues at the consulting firm, and that A.T. Kearney's ability to offer the eBreviate strategic sourcing tools provides a point of differentiation from other consulting firms.

Saban has been working with A.T. Kearney to score a number of new wins in Europe, where he says the consulting firm has been more active in using the eBreviate tools during strategic sourcing engagements. Now eBreviate apparently intends to repeat this experience in the U.S. market. Slaight said that eBreviate's goal is to have 20 percent shared customers with A.T. Kearney and 80 percent of its business come from outside of the consulting firm's client base.

The solution provider also will be stressing its offering as an integrated suite of e-sourcing management technologies. "Too often we're thought of as an auction company," Slaight said of eBreviate. "But we're far more than that. We cover the entire panoply of sourcing at a company. We're really much more of an integrated model."

Carrie Ericson, eBreviate's vice president of operations, speaking in the same interview as Slaight, said that eBreviate will continue to emphasize its eBreviate Academy training program, which educates companies in how to incorporate e-sourcing into their daily business practices. In addition, eBreviate is looking at ways to productize the intellectual capital they have developed in-house with regard to category analysis, total-cost models and best practices.

Slaight added that the company has been receiving requests from suppliers for assistance in understanding the best strategies for responding to e-RFPs and the game theory behind the bidding process in an e-sourcing event. eBreviate is currently examining how it might be able to work with suppliers without precipitating a conflict of interest with the company's buy-side clients.

eBreviate was incorporated as an EDS company in January 2000, and it recently reported that 91 clients had spent nearly $10 billion in more than 400 categories over the past 18 months, resulting in savings of $1.2 billion. In July, eBreviate announced that Volkswagen had signed a multi-year contract to use a self-service version of the solution provider's software, to be installed behind VW's firewall. VW plans to hold some 800 sourcing events this year using the eBreviate tools.

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