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Tuesday, July 23, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Attachmate Reaches Back To Meet Net Challenge

Seattle Times Business Reporter

Attachmate Corp. is hoping old leadership can solve new challenges.

The second-largest software company in the state is rethinking how it will tackle a business-computing marketplace shaken by the increasing use of the Internet.

And for the third time, Frank Pritt, the Bellevue company's founder and chairman, has taken control of day-to-day operations as chief executive officer.

"This is all happening fairly rapidly," Walter Conner, company spokesman, said of the move, which took effect last week. "A lot of . . . issues and strategies are being discussed right now."

Pritt replaces James Lindner, who has served as chief executive since last summer. Lindner was CEO of Georgia-based Digital Communication Associates Inc. when Attachmate merged with that company in 1994.

Pritt, who remains chairman, will lead a search for a permanent chief executive for Attachmate. The company has not announced when it expects to hire a new leader.

Larry Zito, executive vice president of products, has also left Attachmate but will continue as a consultant, Conner said.

Founded by Pritt in 1993, Attachmate has grown to more than 2,000 employees by providing hardware and software that links desktop personal computers to mainframes and computer networks.

Recently, the company has tried to diversify its products to include solutions that enable companies to connect their internal operations to the Internet.

Last fall, for example, Attachmate bought The Wollongong Group, a Calif.-based company that marketed an all-in-one software product that lets computer users tap into the Internet and send e-mail, among other things.

An analyst who follows Attachmate's market said such ventures, backed by Lindner, have not grown as quickly as the company had hoped.

"All of that has not borne the fruit they expected," said Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst with International Data Corp. "While it certainly has been useful, the degree to which they went after that may not have been appropriate for the market."

Rainge said that industry insiders have been speculating that the privately held company has not met its sales goals for the past two quarters.

Conner would not comment on the company's recent sales performance.

He did say that Pritt's return is directly linked to an effort to re-examine and focus the company's goals.

Pritt previously returned to the CEO post amid another leadership shake-up in 1993. The company had been rumored to have its sights set on going public and had courted Wall Street interest before abandoning the plan in 1994.

Rainge said it is doubtful Attachmate could make a successful bid now for an initial public offering. Conner would not comment on specific Attachmate plans but said the company always keeps its eye on market opportunities.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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