New CEO at Avid

20 12 2007

Avid Technology logoAvid, yesterday, announced that they had found their new Chairman and CEO, Gary Greenfield. Interestingly and, perhaps, wisely, he is someone from outside the editing world. Previously he was CEO of GXS, a company that has a very interesting set of products. (more on that in a moment) I’ve got a few preliminary comments, but first, here is Greenfield’s bio from the GXS site.

Gary Greenfield is Chief Executive Officer of GXS. Mr. Greenfield is also an Operating Partner with Francisco Partners, the world’s largest technology-focused buyout fund. He joined GXS after serving as Chief Executive Officer of Peregrine Systems, a global leader in consolidated asset and service management software, where he managed the business from July of 2002 through August of 2003. Prior to joining Peregrine, he was president and CEO of MERANT, a publicly traded e-business development solutions company, from December 1998 to October 2001. As CEO of INTERSOLV before this, Mr. Greenfield oversaw the merger with Micro Focus to form MERANT in 1998. Mr. Greenfield joined Sage Software (a predecessor of Merant through merger) in 1987 as Vice President of Marketing, and served in various capacities with them until becoming President in 1995, and CEO in 1998. He has experience growing businesses organically and through acquisition, managing development, marketing and operations, and serving diverse sets of customers from small businesses to the Fortune 500.

Mr. Greenfield serves on the Board of Directors of FrontRange Solutions, Managed Objects and is chairman of Aderant and Intellitactics. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, a masters of science administration from George Washington University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Aside from the fact that Francisco Partners is a buyout fund (which could be very interesting in terms of Avid’s future — either as a buyer or a buyee — GXS has a business to business set of products that include data synchronization across large companies like Walmart. Now, I’m not saying that this is directly translatable to Avid, but the concept of having a CEO who is used to issues of large scale data issues for customers can’t be a bad thing. They also have global messaging software which, according to their product sales pitch, “mediates differences in formats and protocols for you.”

In fact, GSX’s entire business model seems to be built around integration of multiple platforms, disconnected data, and business solutions across the web, across the world.

Now, as I’ve said several times before, when I look at the way the editing process is going, it seems to me that it is all about long distance collaboration. Editors working with co-editors across the country (I did a feature last year like that), long distance interaction with VFX houses and long distance sound jobs. Combine that with the plethora of video and audio formats across the world today, and this hire looks like a very very smart move. Of course, the guy doesn’t have to design any of this stuff, but for Avid to have someone in control who knows international data standardization, and who has worked in creating partnerships to do that.

I’m encouraged. For the first time in many months, I’m very encouraged.

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