Masayoshi Son Quits Ariba Board

Troubled B2B software maker Ariba Inc. said that Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Japan’s Internet investment company Softbank Corp., has quit as a board member.

Softbank would continue to have an ownership stake in Ariba Japan and Son will remain on its board.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Ariba has been suffering in the Internet recession and on Oct. 24 reported a fourth quarter loss excluding certain non-cash and special charges of $27.7 million or a loss of 11 cents per share. Net loss on a GAAP basis for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 was $224.3 million. Net loss on a GAAP basis for the company’s fiscal year 2001 was $10.96 per share.

Once a Wall Street high roller with a 52-week high of $173.50 per share, the stock has been trading in the $6 range recently. Its 52-week low is $1.42.

CEO Larry Mueller departed last July and was replaced in October by Robert Calderoni as president and chief executive officer.

Calderoni was chosen to spearhead Ariba’s current strategy, “Ariba Spend Management,” the goal of which is to help firms improve bottom-line results.

Mueller, who had been the company’s chief marketing officer, was named chief executive last April, after the company slashed its work force by a third and scrapped a plan to purchase San Jose, Calif.-based Agile Software.

“I am very proud of what Ariba has accomplished in the U.S. and in Japan, and I will continue to focus my efforts on ensuring Ariba’s continued success in the Japanese market,” Son said in a statement.

“I really don’t see it as an issue,” First Analysis analyst Steve Bowen told Reuters regarding Son’s departure. “Son is tightening his focus on his own company and its portfolio. I’ve been expecting this.”

Last week Ariba got some good news when IBM said that it was making a renewed push into the B2B market through an alliance with the company in which IBM will offer Ariba’s purchasing software as a paid-for service over the Internet.

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