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Borland Hires Ex-Microsoft Exec as CEO

Borland Software has named former Microsoft executive Tod Nielsen as the company’s new president and CEO, and has also appointed him a member of the Cupertino, Calif. company’s board. Nielsen replaces previous CEO Dale Fuller who left Borland in July.

An industry veteran, Nielsen was a long-term executive at Microsoft, starting there in 1988. After helping to launch the company’s personal database product, Microsoft Access, he spent much of his Microsoft career in developer relations, where he served as vice president of developer tools and, eventually, vice president of the company’s platform group.

Nielsen left Microsoft in 2000 to become CEO of startup CrossGain, the brainchild of another former, long-term Microsoft exec, Adam Bosworth. Following a legal tête-à-tête with their former employer over the timeline of their non-compete agreements as well as over their embrace of the Java language versus Microsoft’s .NET, CrossGain was acquired, personnel and all, by BEA Systems in late 2001.

That sale made Nielsen BEA’s chief marketing officer and executive vice president of engineering. But while CrossGain’s product eventually evolved to become BEA WebLogic Workshop, a key development tool for BEA’s application server products, neither Bosworth nor Nielsen stayed long. Bosworth left in 2004 to become Google’s vice president of engineering where he remains.

Nielsen, meanwhile, left BEA last year, and then joined Oracle earlier this summer as senior vice president of marketing and global sales. However, like former Microsoft CFO Greg Maffei, who announced last week that he is leaving as Oracle’s CFO after only four months, Nielsen is now also moving on.

Borland Software's previous incarnation was as Borland International with Gallic developer tools entrepreneur Philippe Khan at the helm. Borland was a major Microsoft competitor in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, the company could not win in its battles against the Redmond giant and eventually fell on hard financial times.

Borland was founded in 1983 and rose to prominence with highly functional, yet inexpensive, developer tools like TurboPascal. In recent years the company has been trying to remake itself. These days, the company’s focus is on products to support what Borland describes as “software delivery optimization.” As is common in the technology industry, Borland’s enmity towards Microsoft has softened.

Besides hiring an old adversary to head the company, this week Borland also introduced an integrated requirements management system for business and technical analysts using Microsoft’s just-released Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.