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Microworkz president falls on sword

Latman to hand over day-to-day operations to more conventional management team

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Rick Latman, president of budget-PC vendor Microworkz, today said he will quit his post on 15 November to make way for a new management team. Latman will stay on at the company he founded, but take a more back-seat role as chairman of the board. Until a replacement is found, Microworkz will be run by recently arrived COO Lance Rosen. Microworkz' spin on Latman's move has the president moving on in response to the company's fast -- "perhaps too fast", confessed Latman -- growth. As a result, Microworkz reckons it needs to get out of that start-up frame of mind and start acting like a major IT operation. Or, as the company puts it, expand "its organisational bandwidth" -- whatever the heck that means... Still, it's a curious move given that it's a tacit admission that Microworkz has been getting it wrong of late. There's been the issue of whether the company can ship its $199 iToaster Net access box -- it has finally begun to do so, it now claims. And there's the ongoing legal tussle with US ISP EarthLink, which alleges Microworkz failed to pay it for the 1000 or so users the ISP gave free Internet access to on Microworkz' behalf. Microworkz arrogantly claims to be "a household name". It may well be -- but not for selling bucketloads of computers. But then this is a company that believes itself to be "the darling of the computer world", and has a president who seems to view himself as a latter-day Henry Ford, bringing computers to everyone. That kind of attitude is unlikely to appeal to prospective partners, and Latman's move may well have been decided upon to give the company a more conservative front as it seeks to shift its business model away from selling direct to consumers but to ISPs and large retail chains, such as AOL, British free ISP Freeserve and its retailer parent, Dixons Stores Group. Latman's off-the-cuff remarks earlier this year about how Microworkz was on the verge of a major multi-million dollar deal with Freeserve can hardly have made negotiations with the ISP's straight-laced owner any easier. Finally, Microworkz is probably looking to make an IPO once it's got the iToaster shipping smoothly, and putting a more conventional management team in place makes it far less likely the company might alienate Wall Street. ® Related Stories Microworkz moves to settle EarthLink suit Microworkz signs $300m ISP deal with AT&T

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