Paul, 40, joined Covisint in October 2001 and was the company's senior vice president of sales and marketing.
Before joining Covisint, he was president of Synapz, a division of Future Three Software Inc. of Northville, Mich.
That is where he began his work on improving the information flow among automakers and suppliers.
"I was asked to develop a new division (at Future Three) that would focus in on supply chain interoperability," Paul says. "The first two quarters were very successful, very focused. Then Covisint was announced and froze the market."
That was in early 2000. Paul's idea was to build a hub for communications that would support both electronic data interchange and eventually XML (a flexible text format for exchanging data on the Web), says Kevin Prouty, automotive research director at research firm GartnerG2 in Stamford, Conn.
"That's the same model that Covisint is building," Prouty says. "He took what he did at Synapz and said, 'This is exactly what people are looking for,' and solidified Covisint on that vision."
John Flavin, CEO at Future Three, recalls asking Paul to develop a Web-based data messaging product called Eclipz. "We still sell it today, and we're successful with it," Flavin says.
While Flavin is not surprised that Paul is trying to do the same thing on a larger scale at Covisint, he is sceptical that Covisint can pull it off - even with Paul at the helm.
"They are going up against some heavy and stiff competition," Flavin says. "Nobody's going to tear their application out and pay probably the same or more."
Flavin also believes that Covisint still has to overcome its credibility problem by showing its value to the industry.
"Underlying the whole thing, Covisint's never delivered anything," Flavin says.