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An Ailing Ariba Turns to a New CEO

Ailing B2B solutions provider Ariba Inc. named a new CEO, added Softbank Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son to its board of directors and launched an e-learning initiative "for customers, partners and employees to learn about Ariba's ... solutions."

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which several weeks ago slashed its workforce by a third and scrapped a plan to purchase San Jose-based Agile Software , said that its president and chief operating officer, Larry Mueller, 48, will be the new CEO.

Former CEO Keith Krach will continue as chairman of the board of directors. For the six months ended March 31, Ariba revenues totaled $260.9 million, up from $63.5 million. Net loss totaled $2.18 billion, up from $136.3 million in the comparable period a year earlier. About $1.4 billion of the loss was a writedown for goodwill related to an acquisition.

The market liked the news of a new CEO, sending Ariba's stock price up 51 cents in mid-morning trading to $7.90. The company, once a darling of the Internet market segment, has seen its stock tumble from a heady 52-week high of $173.50 to a low of $4.37.

Mueller was named to the board of directors along with Masayoshi Son, replacing Crosspoint Corp. founder John Mumford, who has retired from Ariba's board to focus on his entrepreneurial business endeavors. Ariba has teamed with Softbank in the Japanese market.

Mueller joined the company in October 1999; before that he was president and CEO of a software start-up called Imageware.

"With Larry leading Ariba, I'm confident we will be successful in taking Ariba to the next level," Krach said. "My efforts as chairman will be focused on reaching out to our customers and collaborating on board level strategy and the direction of the company,."

Mueller emphasized his commitment to growing the Ariba Commerce Services Network into a universal network.

The e-learning initiative aims to help with that objective; the Web-based portal will offer online courses and training about Ariba products, processes and enabling technologies. Students will now have the opportunity to take Ariba-recommended enabling classes on programming and project management.

"Access and availability of quality education are a major factor in achieving a faster ROI for our customers and partners, while reducing the total cost of ownership," said Paula Cabacungan director of Education Channels at Ariba.