DELL'S KOCHER TAKES TACTICS TO ARTISOFT

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Michael Dell's kamikaze marketing guy has charged out the door. Joel Kocher, 37, will become chief operating officer for Artisoft, Tucson, Ariz., a $100 million company best known for a Local Area Network product called LANtastic.

Mr. Kocher had been president of worldwide sales, marketing and services for Dell Computer Corp., Austin, Texas, a PC maker with $3 billion in annual sales.

Mr. Kocher said he was anxious to get into software, especially networking, and "control the entire value chain," not just sales, marketing and service.

"Advertising is nine-tenths of the law," he said. "I come from a direct response background where you create demand. I'll go in with a demand creation bias." Artisoft recently hired Winston Advertising, San Jose, Calif., as agency on its account.

Artisoft President William C. Keiper said Mr. Kocher's hiring climaxed a six-month search. "He has shown brilliance in terms of his marketing savvy. He has shown excellent leadership in terms of his sales organization. And he has shown an exceptional commitment to the customer."

In a statement, Dell Chairman Michael Dell praised Mr. Kocher "for his part in our ongoing recovery."

Mr. Kocher joined Dell in 1987 from Tandy Corp., then a rival computer maker.

Mr. Kocher's hyper-aggressive sales tactics were credited in part with helping Dell reach the $3 billion annual sales level. But profits didn't always follow sales at Dell.

A $75 million second-quarter loss in 1993 served as a wake-up call for the company. "It was like we had an adult head on an adolescent body," said Mr. Kocher.

The biggest embarrassment was the decision to kill a new notebook computer line before it was delivered.

While Mr. Kocher was featured in a March 14 Business Week story on the turnaround, he remained brash, saying Dell must have 15% of the PC market to survive until the end of the decade when it held 3.5%, according to Dataquest Inc., a San Jose, Calif., market research company.

Artisoft presents opportunities much like Dell in the 1980s, Mr. Keiper said. It's growing fast, $13.6 million in profits on $107.4 million in sales for the year ended June 30, against profits of $9.4 million on sales of $84.6 million for the previous year.

But Artisoft also faces large rivals, like Novell Inc. with its NetWare network operating system and Microsoft Corp. with its LAN Manager.

"We think he's a tremendous add," said Mr. Keiper. "I certainly expect that Joel's pattern of success will be applied at Artisoft."

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