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  • Siebel Systems' CEO Michael Lawrie resigned in April, one week after announcing disappointing first quarter earnings and less than a year since his appointment. George Shaheen, a 10-year Siebel Systems board member, will take Lawrie's place. Commenting on the reason for the change, Tom Siebel, the company's chairman and founder, said during a press conference that the company did not meet the investors' and internal expectations. "The company did a very thorough review of the performance of the business, and thought it was in the best interest of the shareholders and the company to make a change," he said. Lawrie was appointed as CEO in May 2004, when Siebel stepped down from that position.
  • SugarCRM unveiled its latest hosted software suite in April for $39.95 per user, per month. The company is adding a slew of customer-influenced proprietary applications in version 3.0 (only months after releasing Sugar Suite 2.5). Yankee Group Research analyst Sheryl Kingstone says the added functionality in the new version should help SugarCRM get more attention from cost-conscious CRM buyers. New enhancements include marketing functionality, sales forecasting, wireless support, and campaign and project management.
  • Gartner recently unveiled the results of its "Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service and Support Applications, 2005," and Siebel Systems is the sole vendor in the leaders quadrant. Gartner states that $600 million, or 45 percent, of Siebel's 2004 revenue came from its CSS organization business, with its deep functionality and integration and its large average-site size (from a scalability perspective), driving the result. Siebel's strongest competition, according to the report, comes from Amdocs--the only vendor to land a position in the Challengers quadrant.
  • Consumers are increasingly attracted to online shopping, with online spending increasing 14 percent in 2004, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks. "Paid Online Content U.S. Market Spending Report" reveals that U.S. consumers paid an all-time annual high of $1.8 billion in 2004. OPA has conducted the study for the past three years, and over that time results have shown a continuous climb in online revenues, from $664 million in 2001 to $1.3 billion in 2002; to $1.6 billion in 2003; and to 2004's $1.8 billion.
  • JetBlue ranked first, for the second year in a row, in the 15th annual Airline Quality Rating study. The AQR ranks the 16 largest U.S. airlines in on-time arrivals, baggage handling, denied boardings, and customer complaints. Overall, four of the top-five rated airlines are low-fare carriers, with AirTran, Southwest, and Alaska trailing JetBlue. United Airlines, ranked fourth, was the only major carrier to make the top five.
  • Looking to add to its collection of more than 40 consumer Web sites (including Ticketmaster, LendingTree, and Expedia), IAC/InterActiveCorp plans to acquire Ask Jeeves. The deal, announced in April, reflects IAC's awareness that people want to use their own language when searching for information online. Ask Jeeves, which has about 42 million U.S. unique monthly users, grabbed the attention of online searchers with its natural language capabilities, but it trails its key competitors Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, expects more end-user companies to consider natural-language Web self-service solutions to enhance how they deliver customer service. "More companies are going to realize that it doesn't have to be a very expensive proposition, and that it can actually do a lot to enhance the responsiveness and the customer satisfaction of the Web site." (For the full stories visit www.destinationCRM.com)
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