Judge Takes Reins at Crystal

Former IBM executive replaces Kerfoot as CEO at Crystal Decisions.

Customers and partners of information management software maker Crystal Decisions can expect its new CEO, Jon Judge, to steer the course more than rock the boat.

Crystal, a unit of privately-held Seagate Technologies, this week named Judge its new president and chief executive replacing company founder Greg Kerfoot, who will chair Crystals board of directors. Judge previously spent 25 years working at IBM, most recently as manager of its Personal Computer Division.

Crystal, of Palo Alto, Calif., is the maker of the popular Crystal Reports report-writing software.

"Crystal is a bit of a different animal than most of the companies out there [that I might have gone to work for]. The biggest difference is it is not a broken company. It had eight quarters of growth at levels three times its nearest competitor," Judge said. "If you are going in to fix a broken company you go in with a good game plan. The trick with Crystal is to make sure you embrace culture and success and help them keep on track."

Judge was light on specifics when articulating his plans for Crystal. He did note, however, that the company has not penetrated markets outside North America as much as it could, nor has it won as many enterprise-wide licenses as it could.

When he started interviewing for executive positions at various companies after leaving IBM, concerns about corporate governance that have been raised due to alleged improprieties at companies like WorldCom were not an issue for Judge.

"Maybe Im naïve but I believe if you are playing the game straight, are willing to open your books, and not willing to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term [reputation then you will do alright]," Judge said.

Nevertheless, Judge said he diligently scrutinized Crystals books before accepting the job.

Judge said he is ready to bear the increased scrutiny that investors and the media are applying to corporate executives.

"I left IBM to become a CEO," he said. "If I wanted to be a number-two or number-three guy I would have stayed at IBM."