Debbie Wilson

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Deborah R Wilson
Research Vice President
4 years at Gartner
12 years IT industry

Deborah Wilson, a Gartner research vice president, covers procurement strategies and applications. Her areas of interest include procurement transaction automation, e-marketplaces, e-sourcing, spend analysis, accounts payable automation… Read Full Bio

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A New Chapter for Emptoris – and Avner Schneur

by Debbie Wilson  |  August 13, 2009  |  5 Comments

It’s hard to imagine Emptoris without Avner Schneur. When I think of Avner, I think of passion, intensity and drive.  I have no doubt that Emptoris has been a survivor of the long and winding road of B2B evolution largely as a result of Avner’s work.   

There have however been signs of trouble at this pioneering company over the past year.  Last year’s disclosure (that came as a result of the Ariba patent infringement lawsuit) that Emptoris’ revenues were much lower than the analyst community had been left to believe were quite unsettling. Even more surprising was the fact that Emptoris was no where near profitable (at least not in 2007), which given its size and age, it should have been.  It is not a good sign that Emptoris was not able to get another round of funding from its existing investors last December when it had to pony up $7 million in damages to pay Ariba.   It also appears, from my interaction with prospects, that this year Emptoris hasn’t been winning as many new deals as some of its competitors.  My guess, and this is my pure speculation here, is that Emptoris’ new owner, Marlin Equity Partners, wasn’t too pleased with the performance of the company this year and as a result . . .  the search for a new CEO ensues.  

What will Emptoris be like without Avner?  Will the next leader help it thrive, grow, and improve profitability?  Maybe.  Will the vendor continue as a leader in the strategic sourcing space for the next few years?  Probably.  Will Avner be back, in one form or another, someday?  It may take ten years, as it did for Steve Jobs to return after being pushed out by Apple’s board of directors – but my prediction for Emptoris is – definitely.   And in meantime, I hope Avner takes some time to contemplate what skills and attitudes he needs to hone to provide leadership for a larger company.  

5 Comments »

Category: Strategic Sourcing The Business of Software     Tags:

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 former employee   August 21, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Avner is a great strategic mind, charismatic manager, and strong leader. He’s had great drive, enthusiasm and passion from when the Emptoris vision was originally a vision, all the way through to building one of the top platform providers in the sector. he will be missed by many.

  • 2 Harry S   August 24, 2009 at 3:31 am

    Avner’s departure from Emptoris sounds bad as he was the founder. Avner raised Emptoris from nowhere to everywhere. In his leadership, Emptoris successfully positioned itself as a global vendor in the Sourcing & Contract space. Hope Emptoris will find the right person again and Avner will find the right place as well. Returning of Avner to Emptoris in future will be a nice surprise.

  • 3 Debbie Wilson   August 24, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Thanks former employee and Harry for your comments. It is all too common in tech firms for the founder to eventually take a back seat in their business. Look at Ariba – Keith Krach left in 2003 after 7 years with his “baby.”

  • 4 Former Employee #2   November 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Avner should never have been CEO. He is a technology guy, not a business guy. After founding the company he should have made himself CTO and then hired a real CEO. The company probably would have IPO’d and been bought long ago for a good premium. Instead, they barely hung in there, were forced to sell to a private equity firm and now need a new CEO to turn things around. It’s a shame because Emptoris had a great product and opportunity. It just needed someone with vision and business acumen to take it to the next level. Avner was not that guy.

  • 5 Emptoris Employee   November 24, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    As Debbie said, this is what they were thinking on Steve Jobs and we all know what happen there.
    I don’t think it will happen, but I wish Avner will come back.
    The fact is that when Avner was CEO there was excitement and energy in the company. Customers knew to expect us to be the best. While all our competitors, one after the other went down, we continue to grow. Avner’s strategy worked and he executed very well. We grew every year, even in tough years and we had real leadership in the market. If we did not have the Ariba patent infringement lawsuit, (the only reason they sued was to stop us because we were killing them in the market) we were IPOd already and there was nobody better than Avner to do it.