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Onyx CEO to step down

A search is on for an executive to replace Brent Frei, who co-founded the midmarket CRM vendor.

Brent Frei, the co-founder of midmarket CRM vendor Onyx Software Corp., plans to step down as chief executive and chairman.

Frei, a Dartmouth College graduate and former software engineer at Microsoft, founded Onyx in 1994. The Bellevue, Wash.-based firm said this morning that it has hired executive recruitment firm Christian & Timbers to track down a replacement.

"I'm proud of the technology leadership and customer-focused corporate culture we've created, and I believe that the time is right for me to turn over the reins to a CEO who can take Onyx to new heights over the next decade," Frei said. In a morning conference call, Frei added that the time was right to "transition from an entrepreneurial to managerial CEO."

Under Frei's leadership Onyx signed on 1,000 customers and is credited with creating some innovative technology, including allowing partners to embed components of Onyx's CRM software into their applications.

Of late, however, Onyx has weathered some tough times. In addition to losing its unsolicited bid to acquire midmarket rival Pivotal Corp., the company has seen its share of red ink. Onyx plans to announce lower-than-expected revenues of $13 million and an operating loss of $1.3 million for the fourth quarter.

The bid for Pivotal cost Onyx less than $100,000 and was not a reason for falling short of revenue targets, executives said.

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