Just when it seemed that Novell would never find a suitable CEO, the struggling network software maker announced a coup. On Mar. 18, it snagged Eric Schmidt, 41, a pioneer of networked computing who is chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems.

The appointment ends a search for a replacement for Robert Frankenberg, who left in August. Frankenberg refocused Novell on networking after a distracting series of acquisitions by founder Raymond Noorda. But he couldn't stem a slide in sales, earnings, and market share. Novell's stock, which hit 26 in February, 1994, is trading around 9.

What drew Schmidt to Novell? "There are tremendous assets that

are not well-known," says Schmidt, who confesses to a "passion for protocols."

Novell has more than 50 million customers and a technology even Microsoft can't match: "directory services" for tracking and managing all of the resources on a network. Schmidt's pals also figure he'll push the Java software he helped bring forth at Sun.

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