Special Report: Merrick trades flash for cash

Published on .

Who: Phillip Merrick

What: Founder, president-CEO

Where: webMethods Inc.


Phillip Merrick is as low-key as the b-to-b integration technology his company provides. Even after hitting the IPO jackpot last February—hailed as the fourth most successful IPO ever, based on first-day price gain—the Australian-born techie at heart still drives a 1996 Honda.

It’s a fitting car for the CEO of a company that too often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, in part because its software handles the less-than-flashy task of helping companies integrate their data and systems via the Internet. Merrick calls his company "the plumbers who make b-to-b work."

Merrick founded webMethods Inc. with partner Charles Allen in 1996 to help companies move data around in support of b-to-b applications. As data-sharing standard extensible markup language took off, so did Merrick’s company. WebMethods delivered one of the first-ever XML-based systems for b-to-b integration.

The payoff was huge, but the company wasn’t an overnight success. Merrick banged on VCs’ doors for months, trying in vain to convince them of the power of b-to-b e-commerce. Finally, customers—and the marketplace—came to understand the power of Merrick’s vision.

Today, the company is valued at $3.7 billion. With more than 400 customers, comprised not of dot-coms but instead of Global 2000 powerhouses such as Dell Computer Corp., Eastman Chemical Co. and Dun & Bradstreet Corp., Merrick is guiding a company that has already proven it is in the b-to-b game for the long haul.

—Richard Karpinski

Who: Steve Barrett What: VP-strategic marketing Where: RealNames Corp. Why: With a killer deal integrating his company’s keyword marketing technology into Microsoft Corp.’s browser, Barrett is helping b-to-b marketers rethink their online branding efforts.

Who: Gregory A. Brady What: President Where: i2 Technologies Inc. Why: I2 was delivering b-to-b platforms before many of its competitors even existed. It was Brady who boldly led the longtime supply chain vendor into the new world of e-commerce and e-marketplaces.

Who: Fadi Chehadé What: Chairman-CEO Where: Viacore Inc. Why: For years, Chehadé helped the computer and electronics industry hammer out how it does e-business. Now he’s putting his lessons learned to the test, building hubs to connect his industry’s massive supply chains.

Who: Dr. Pehong Chen What: Chairman-CEO Where: BroadVision Inc. Why: As the founder of BroadVision, Chen shepherds one of the few profitable e-commerce companies, with customers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Home Depot Inc.

Who: Jerry Greenberg What: Co-chairman and co-CEO Where: Sapient Corp. Why: Greenberg has avoided hype and flash, building a solid company with actual earnings. And with no more than 2% of revenue expected from dot-coms this year, Sapient’s well-positioned to thrive.

Who: Mark Hoffman What: Chairman-CEO Where: Commerce One Inc. Why: Hoffman envisions bringing together corporations around the globe in a web of interlinked e-marketplaces. Most important, however, is Commerce One’s key role in building the system.

Who: Keith Krach What: Chairman-CEO Where: Ariba Inc. Why: B-to-b’s golden boy co-founded Ariba in 1996. Under his stewardship, the company has grown tremendously, gobbling up would-be competitors and forging key alliances with IBM Corp. and i2 Technologies Inc.

Who: Joel Ronning What: CEO Where: Digital River Inc. Why: Ronning’s 350-employee strong company wrote crucial b-to-b software connecting Mercedes-Benz to its dealers, and more partnerships are under way. This so-called commerce service provider looks ready to soar.

Who: Roger Siboni What: President-CEO Where: E.piphany Inc. Why: Siboni helped lead the awkwardly named CRM company to the top of the heap—and IPO riches—by rolling up four of its competitors and by integrating customer service functionality across the board.

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