Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Mike Shinya departs MicroFocus

In what the Financial Times described as a 'terse statement', Micro Focus announced that Mike Shinya was stepping down with immediate effect from his role as COO and as a director.

MicroFocus, or 'the old Coboler' as we sometimes described it, has been around for many decades although it is probably best known recently for quickly following its May 2005 IPO with a series of profit warnings.

Equally I've known Mike Shinya for a long time too - particularly during his time 'saving' Sherwood before successfully selling it to Sungard in 2003.

Then in May 2006 I met Steve Kelly on his appointment as the new CEO. Kelly came from Chordiant after spending 10 years at Oracle where we had mutual friends like Geoff Squire. We hit it off quite quickly. 1) because I ranted on about how Micro Focus should expoit its fantastic niche as a legacy system supporter rather than constantly searching out new markets (which usually failed). I've been in IT now for over 40 years and learned COBOL way back in 1966. People have been predicting its demise ever since. I suspect there will still be COBOL programs to support/update/amend in 40 years hence. Kelly agreed enthusiastically! 2) because we ate at the Vineyard close to Micro Focus' offices in Newbury. Anyone who takes me to restaurants with 2 Michelin stars is immediately a friend of mine.

I think I had a tiny bit to do with Shinya joining Micro Focus too.

I've been pretty impressed with MicroFocus' performance of late. In Dec 07 they reported revenues up 38% - with a 17% increase organically. Two pretty smart acquisitions - Accucorp and HAL - in the last 18 months and a pretty impressive 30%+ jump in EDITDA to c$42m. To be blunt, I was beginning to think MicroFocus might well turn into a rather rare UK software success story.

So I was pretty surprised with the Shinya departure. So surprised that I immediately picked up the 'phone to Steve Kelly. Although Kelly wouldn't tell me exactly what had happened, it is clearly (to me) a clash of personalities. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. Kelly assured me that the "outlook for the company was very strong - very robust". He had no need to alter any analyst expectations. He had a 'strong team' in place which would stay in place.

I'm sure we will see Shinya 'back in the saddle' soon and I, for one, wish him well. Equally, I hope that MicroFocus will continue to go from strength to strength. On the basis of my chat with Kelly, I have no reason to doubt it.


StanWellaway said...

Didn't yesterday's report say that Mike Shinya had taken a post at another ("US facing") software company? In which case he was presumably set to leave anyway. So maybe this was a case of him being quickly shown the door once the MF directors found out..

Richard Holway said...

For the record, I do not believe the comment from stanwellaway to be correct. I can find no record of anyone or any press report suggesting that Shinya resigned to take up a post with a 'US facing' software company.
So I asked Shinya directly. He says this suggestion is completely incorrect. He will take a few weeks to get his head together before starting the search for a new role.