Progress Software struggles to make headway

Firm to sell 10 products and lay off 10 per cent of staff.

US-based application development and middleware firm Progress Software is to sell off 10 "non-core" products, and make headcount reductions of up to 15 per cent after disappointing results.

The firm led a strategic review, conducted internally but also with the help of J.P. Morgan, that appears to have recommended a complete change of tack away from its "Responsive Process Management" vision.

CEO Jay Bhatt said the review took five months, and the conclusion was that the firm needs to keep its feet on the ground but get its head in the clouds. Specifically, it will continue to invest in as well as 'cloudify' what it now calls its core products - the OpenEdge, DataDirect Connect and Apama Analytics and Decisions products.

Pretty much everything else is getting the heave-ho by the middle of 2013 at the latest, and the list of things that are non-core makes surprising reading. The ten products for the chop are Actional, Artix, DataXtend, FuseSource, ObjectStore, Orbacus, Orbix, Savvion, Shadow and Sonic – many of which were acquired for considerable sums over the years, for example Actional for $32m in 2006 and Savvion for $49m in January 2010.

Anyway, Bhatt said everything will be fine once the plan is executed. "Valuable analysis, market feedback and lessons learned from previous product strategies helped inform our view and we fully intend to evolve Progress into a leaner company that will help to lead the computing evolution from on-premise to the Cloud. The Board and I are confident that Progress has the right DNA, scale and experience to make this transformation successful for the benefit of all stakeholders."

Shareholders in particular will be feeling a little bruised by Progress' recent, er, progress (and yes, it did unfortunately trademark the term "Business Making Progress".) On the announcement of its rather poor first quarter (revenue down 7 per cent, operating and net income both down around 40 per cent) its stock fell 40 per cent in a day.

Perhaps realising that its shareholders' patience has already worn thin, the firm also announced a stock repurchase worth $350m which could help the shares regain a little ground.

Read more at http://bit.ly/Ju11Ev.

Jason Stamper is the editor of Computer Business Review.

Photograph: Getty Images

Jason Stamper is editor of Computer Business Review

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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