Cognos CEO Steps Down

Cognos CEO Rob Zambonini, who once promised to conduct an earnings call naked if his company’s new reporting product failed to earn $10 million in sales for the quarter, announced his retirement Thursday.

Zambonini, a native of Motherwell, Scotland, will leave the business
intelligence (BI) software business at the annual stockholders meeting June 23 but will be named chairman of the Cognos board of directors, succeeding current chair James Tory, who will become lead director.

Current President and COO Rob Ashe will replace Zambonini and will be
nominated for election to the Cognos board at the shareholders meeting.

“He is retiring to spend more time with his family, especially his wife and son, and to pursue new challenges and interests, like serving as Chairman of the Board of Cognos,” Cognos spokesman Sean Reid told

Zambonini is calling it quits after shepherding the Burlington, Mass., company, which makes software to help companies monitor their progress, through its biggest product through the launch of ReportNet, a Web-based software suite that produces graphical reports on enterprise performance.

Cognos, which also announced fourth quarter earnings of $202 million and $683 million for the year, competes with Business Objects, Hyperion and MicroStrategy in the competitive BI market.

Last July, the sector heated up as several of the large vendors acquired smaller outfits to fill gaps in their portfolios concerning
reporting software. Microsoft joined
the fray with its SQL Reporting Services 2000 product. But the sector has
cooled in the wake of the mass consolidation.

In an interview at the ReportNet launch in New York last September, Zambonini told it made more sense for Cognos to craft ReportNet
rather than acquire a company, in part because they had been working on it
for about six years before the market got so crowded.

The CEO also said the difficulties in merging companies with possibly
different corporate cultures and uncertainty of integrating alien code was a
big factor in the choice to build.

In a public statement, the outgoing CEO praised Ashe, crediting him for
articulating the company’s corporate performance management strategy and
“propelling Cognos ReportNet to market.”

Zambonini joined Cognos in 1989 as vice president of research and
development and was promoted to senior vice president of research and
development within a year. He became president and COO in 1993 and was
promoted to president and CEO in September 1995.

Cognos, which serves more than 22,000 customers in over 135 countries, raked
in $30 million of license revenue for ReportNet in Q4 on the strength of
transactions from top businesses such as AT&T, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

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