erre L. Stead, CEO

Legent Corp.

575 Herndon Pkwy.

Herndon, Va. 22070

(703) 708-3000

What prompts one of the heir apparents at AT&T to jump corporate ship to steer the helm at a company with barely half a billion dollars in annual revenues?

Well, for starters, Jerre Stead, former chairman and CEO of AT&T's $7.26 billion computer business, stands to gain about $20 million in annual salary, counting stock options and other assorted remunerations, if he keeps the Herndon, Va.-based software supplier on a steady upward revenue and income trajectory. And Stead also gets to run the whole show -- and lead what just about everyone in the software industry believes to be one of the best-positioned firms. For Legent is in the lucrative business of managing increasingly far-flung and complex computer networks. This is the business Legent has always plied. But in past years, Legent has been noted mainly for managing networks tied to mainframe computers.

Anyone who hasn't been hiding in a cave for the last five years knows mainframes are dead, and they are now being replaced with so-called client/server networks. That means complex combinations of mainframes, PCs, minicomputers and powerful workstations -- all combined in mostly inelegant ways to run businesses. The catch is, these systems often fail, and they are incredibly hard to manage.

Here's Legent's forte: managing this mess. "You should see significant and rapid, profitable growth," says Stead, in a recent conference call with John Burton, whom he replaces as CEO. Stead will also be appointed chairman following Joe Henson's February retirement .

Stead will have his hands full coaching a more mature Legent to compete against the likes of Computer Associates -- not to mention firms such as Oracle Corp. and Microsoft, which are unlikely to ignore any profitable chunk of the software market. "I've been involved in software for 29 years," says Stead, who has also been CEO of three multibillion dollar companies during his career. "I always wanted the opportunity to lead a young, aggressive company."

He sees his biggest challenge in that role as raising Legent's profile -- particularly given the arcane nature of what the company does. After all, most everyone has heard of Microsoft or even Oracle. But Legent?

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