DETROIT -- Three years ago this month, Bob Paul found himself in the role of Mr. Fix-It.
Bruce Swift had just resigned as Covisint LLC's (covisint.com) fourth president in less than three years. Paul, then vice president of sales and marketing, was named to replace him. By then it was clear that Covisint -- a much-heralded online purchasing exchange formed by the Big 3 in 2000 to transform the way automakers and suppliers buy parts -- was floundering.
So Paul was given a choice.
"They asked me to dissolve the company or fix it," Paul recalls. "They" refers to the Big 3, Renault and Nissan. Each held an equity stake in Covisint.
Fast forward to today. The company looks almost nothing like the powerhouse its creators envisioned.
But industry observers say Compuware Covisint -- its name since the $7.1 million purchase by Detroit's Compuware Corp. (compuware.com) in 2004 -- has become focused and strategic and is building revenue for the parent company.
But Covisint's key product is not reverse auctions -- the thing that was going to transform the industry. It is data messaging.
The company has "devolved into a kind of back-end software company," says Kevin Prouty, a former IT analyst who now is manufacturing director at Symbol Technologies Inc. (symbol.com), of Holtsville, N.Y.
Compuware would not reveal Covisint's annual sales. Bert Hochfeld, managing director of Hochfeld Independent Research Group in New York, estimates that Covisint revenues were up about 10 percent to $44 million in the fiscal year that ended March 31.