January 24, 1996

Manzi, Former Lotus Chairman, Named Industry.Net CEO


Jim P. Manzi, the fiery former chairman of Lotus Development Corp., has been named president and chief executive at Industry.Net, a little-known, privately held Internet company based in Pittsburgh.

Manzi acknowledged that he also made a "significant" investment in Industry.Net, an investment that makes him one of the company's major shareholders.

Manzi resigned from Lotus in October, just three months after the software maker was acquired by International Business Machines Corp. for $3.5 billion. Manzi reportedly reaped a $78 million windfall from the deal and had pledged to remain at Lotus for the "long haul." But clashes with IBM chairman Louis Gerstner over software strategy, and Manzi's difficulty in adjusting to life near but not at the top, caused him to depart.

Industry.Net, founded in 1991 by Donald H. Jones, a factory automation entrepreneur, is an on-line service designed to link corporate buyers and sellers of products and services on the World Wide Web.

Jones declined to say what the company's revenues are but said that Industry.Net has 160 employees and that nearly 3,000 companies have set up "business centers," or sites, on its network.

Manzi, 44, said in an interview that he had received dozens of job inquiries and chose Industry.Net because the company's size and focus on commercial business on the Web was in line with his own vision of the power of corporate networks to enhance business. He said Industry.Net had proved how to build a market and make money on the Internet.

"There is a fixation on the Internet with consumers, but I think that is terribly uninteresting," Manzi said. He added that Industry.Net had laid the foundation for "tremendous growth."

As the biggest site on the Internet for business-to-business commerce, with 2 million hits, or visits, to Industry.Net's Web site each month, he said, "there is an opportunity to take this asset and get much bigger very fast."

Jones, 58, will remain in Pittsburgh as chairman while Manzi sets up a co-corporate headquarters in Boston, where he lives, and oversees the company from there.

Esther Dyson, an industry analyst and editor of the newsletter Release 1.0, applauded Manzi's move. "Clearly everybody is taking a risk," she said. "But this is a company where Jim can really make a difference. He can run it and strategize, which is what appeals to him."

Home | Sections | Contents | Search | Forums | Help

Copyright 1996 The New York Times