Sterling Starts 07 with Good News and Bad News

Sterling Commerce completes a $155 million purchase, but unfortunately at the same time its CEO, Samuel Starr, dies of an undisclosed illness.

Sterling Commerce, a subsidiary of AT&T, has marked two significant events in this first month of the new year. The companys president and CEO, Samuel Starr, died Dec. 31 of an undisclosed illness, and on Jan. 8, the company completed its $155 million acquisition of Comergent Technologies, a deal forged by Starr.

According to a press release, Starr, 47, had been admitted to the Ohio State Medical Center in Columbus on Christmas Eve with a "sudden, serious illness" that he did not recover from. He leaves behind a wife and six children.

Starr joined Sterling Commerce in 2000 as the companys chief delivery officer. He quickly moved up to chief operating officer in charge of sales, marketing, research and development, and customer support and technology services. In 2002, Starr was promoted to the top spot at Sterling.

Starr took over the helm at a difficult time in the companys history, when revenues were declining and Sterling Commerce was transitioning from an EDI stalwart to more of an overall e-business player.

Under his watch the company gradually shifted from an infrastructure provider to an applications and integration company. In 2005, Sterling acquired Yantra and subsequently developed its MESA [Multi Enterprise Services Architecture] framework for multi-enterprise collaboration—a strategy the company continues to follow today.

In November 2006, Sterling Commerce rounded out its application portfolio with the announcement that it would acquire Comergent, of Redwood Shores, Calif.

At the time Starr had this to say about the company: "By integrating Comergents eBusiness Application Suite into our multi-channel order orchestration software, we plan to offer a modular end-to-end solution for the challenges that customers historically have handled through a complex and costly mix of point solutions."

Comergents software extends Sterling Commerces Supply Chain Suite with functionality around automating the order capture process. The companys e-Business Platform and Application Suite provides functionality around multi-vendor catalog management, configuration, pricing, quoting, proposals and order management.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read an interview with Samuel Starr from August 2005.

Sterlings suite includes functionality for multi-channel order management, store operations, warehouse management, transportation management and supply chain visibility.

"Order management, with its multiple touch-points to customers and suppliers, is a difficult process to execute well because it reaches beyond typical enterprise boundaries," said Bob Irwin, acting president and CEO for Sterling Commerce, in Dublin, Ohio.

"To achieve growth, organizations must sell broader offerings and reach new markets, and that requires a broad and deep solution for order management—one that addresses the entire order management cycle of buy, sell, ship and pay, but also brings in deep capabilities to handle the complexities at each phase."

In a November 29 research note, AMR Research analyst Bill Swanton wrote about the acquisition that, "Sterling is assembling a critical mass and has an opportunity to provide a platform that combines communications and collaborative functionality for the three major faces of e-business: customer-facing, supplier-facing, and logistics-facing."

A memorial for Starr will be held on Jan. 11 in Columbus, Ohio.

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