At WebMethods, Two New Hires, Nine Quiet Departures

By Ellen McCarthy
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Two days ago Fairfax software company WebMethods Inc. put out a news release trumpeting its new executive hires.

The firm has been a bit quieter about the stream of talent moving in the opposite direction. Over the past 10 months, nine top-level people have left the company. Those who are talking say they all have their own reasons.

Earlier this month WebMethods' chief technology officer, Graham Glass , left to "pursue other interests," according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mary Dridi , the firm's highly respected chief financial officer, resigned in May to spend more time with her family.

Bob Jones , who led WebMethods' government business unit, left in February to join San Francisco-based Vontu Inc ., and in March, Andy Astor , a vice president in charge of technical marketing and acquisition integration, started a new company of his own. Two other senior managers, Don Springer and Tim Wolters , also left this spring to launch their own firm.

David Spille , former vice president of investor relations, jumped ship in December to take a similar position with Sunrise Senior Living Inc., and Jim Ivers , a former WebMethods marketing executive, left the same month to lead the marketing department at Herndon-based Cybertrust Inc.

The company's founder and longtime leader, Phillip Merrick , left in October for health reasons.

It doesn't take a corporate psychologist to divine that so much turnover might be tough on the morale of an 830-person company. Especially one that was plagued by accounting shenanigans in a foreign subsidiary and had to restate its 2004 financial results in the past year.

Deborah Rosen , vice president of marketing, said the shifts are typical for a growing company.

"We have a lot of . . . folks who have been here for quite a long time and new talent that we think we need to take us to our next phase of growth," she said.

Several of the former executives said their departures were amicable. Astor said he was sad to leave but felt compelled to start his own company, Edison, N.J.-based EnterpriseDB Corp .

"I had an entrepreneurial itch," Astor said. "It was a fantastic three years," he said of his tenure at WebMethods.

Spille said he was ready to move out of the technology industry altogether, and Ivers said the opportunity at Cybertrust was too good to pass up. Glass declined to comment, but his blog says he left WebMethods to "start a new company focused on education."

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