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Corel's Cowpland quits

Wants to spend more time with his start ups, apparently

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Michael Cowpland's announcement yesterday that he is resigning as chairman and CEO of Corel could be a shrewd move. Others will think his departure from the executive ranks long overdue.

Corel has a financial crisis that resulted in a new round of layoffs recently, and the present strategy did not seem to be leading the company towards success.

The share price is still in the doldrums - it was $3.66 yesterday - and the products do not seem to be moving off the shelves, or being pre-installed as quickly as necessary to start a recovery.

Cowpland himself is under investigation for insider trading by the Ontario Securities Commission, although no date has yet been set for a hearing. The last event was a tactical victory for him when he won the right to have the hearing held in Ottawa rather than Toronto. Cowpland is still the biggest shareholder.

The announcement from Corel said he would remain as a director and technical advisor, but would play no part in the day-to-day activity. VP and CTO Derek Burney has been appointed interim CEO and president, with James Baillie, a lawyer for Torys, being appointed chairman.

The statement noted that Cowpland plans to spend his time working on start-up ventures in the Linux arena. Coincidentally, Corel announced yesterday the second edition of Corel Linux, and CorelDRAW for Linux, which will ship at the end of the month.

In many ways this is full circle for Cowpland. He co-founded Mitel in 1972 with Terry Matthews (the founder of Newbridge). They sold it, and it is now owned by Alcatel. Mitel stood for "Mike and Terry's lawnmowers", because one of the then-madcap ideas was for a robotic lawnmower.

Cowpland's resignation may well have a rejuvenating effect on the company, although he made it clear that the company was not for sale. He said he wanted "to glory in the success" of Corel. We shall see. ®

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