When Bill Conner joined Entrust Inc. in April, the PKI vendor was in dire straits. The day after he was installed as the new CEO, the company reported a first-quarter loss of nearly $51 million and was in danger of becoming an also-ran in the ultra-competitive market for public-key infrastructure software. Six months later, Entrust, of Plano, Texas, is on its way to delivering on Conners promise to return the company to profitability, having posted a loss of 8 cents in the just-completed third quarter, and is on pace to possibly break even by the end of the year. eWEEK Senior Writer Dennis Fisher spoke with Conner this week about the companys turnaround and his plans for the future.
eWeek: The financial results are coming along, but how do you think the turnaround is going in general?
Conner: Its been a busy six months. Weve been resetting our plan and I think getting our key vertical markets lined up was big. Restructuring our business when we did and to the extent that we did was a big deal. Thats why you see us in the position were in versus our three main competitors. Were off executing and deploying our technology and theyre still acquiring it.
eWeek: Do you see any major hurdles that could prevent you from continuing the recovery and becoming profitable?
Conner: We havent given any guidance as far as revenue for next quarter, because the market is just so tumultuous. But, our plan is right and our execution is right. Our earnings should be in the [5 cents per share loss] to break-even range for the fourth quarter. The opportunity now is to invest in marketing. Wed be crazy to push earnings in this market.
eWeek: What sort of effect did the attacks on Sept. 11 have on your business?
Conner: I think Sept. 11 was the wake-up call to move security from the CIO level to the CEO level, and in government, all the way up to the president. The industry has been completely reset. Security is a big item and it isnt going away. The interest from new customers and old ones was huge. Our government business has been strong, with the Department of Energy and two other agencies I cant name coming on board.
eWeek: So how do you see the rest of the year playing out for Entrust?
Conner: Well, now that one of our competitors [Baltimore Technologies Plc.] has hit the wall, were going to be pushing even harder. Youll see us weigh heavily into portals and go real hard at Netegrity this quarter.