Fennell to head Pinnacle

After spending 12 years as president and CEO of video-server manufacturer Pinnacle Systems, Mark Sanders is taking on the role of chairman of the board, and J. Kim Fennell, most recently president and CEO of StorageWay, will take over Sanders's former duties.

"We felt we needed a senior-level marketing and sales talent who has experience in running a billion-dollar company," says Sanders. "We're projecting revenues to the level where no one in the company has experience running an operation that big."

Fennell's executive track began at Octel Communications in 1986, where he ran several divisions, including International Operations. Octel was acquired by Lucent in 1997, where he was in charge of the Communications Applications Group, which dealt with customer-relationship-management applications, Internet-protocol applications and messaging.

"That group had about 3,000 people and $2 billion in revenue. It was mostly technology oriented with engineers and product management," Fennell says, "so that was a shift for me after growing up in sales and marketing."

Sanders will stay with the company full time and participate on strategy and in other areas. He says Fennell was the ideal candidate for the search team's criteria.

"It's not so much that I'm going away," he adds, "but that we need new ideas, fresh blood."

In 2000, Fennell was on the management team of Lucent spin-off Avaya but decided he wanted to head back to Silicon Valley, which led to a stint at StorageWay, a company that felt its own pinch during the collapse of the dotcom economy.

"We're back to good, solid business basics after a few years that were pretty wild," says Fennell. "My management style is a very open, participatory style. I'm a big believer in team building with strong management teams with strong opinions. I love to leverage the best out of people as opposed to being the guy on the mountaintop who tries to figure it out on his own."

Murray Arenson, analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co., expects Pinnacle is positioning itself for long-term growth without sacrificing near-term performance and that Fennell's background should be an asset.