Wordstar Wants To Be A Star Again

Software history buffs will recall the days when WordStar International Inc. was the king of word processing. But since the early 1980s, when the Novato (Calif.) company squandered its technology edge and the No. 1 spot in its only market, WordStar has become known for losing money and employees. Its stock is now at 2, down from 11 in 1984.

Can this high-tech has-been stage a comeback? Ronald S. Posner, WordStar's chief executive since 1990, is now actively courting Wall Street, asking investors to bet on a long shot. Since Posner doesn't expect WordStar to regain lost ground in its core market, he's diversifying. With recent acquisitions of little-known companies and products, WordStar should get nearly half its $50 million in sales this year from new categories, including an electronic dictionary, fax software, and graphics programs. Its latest deal is a $2 million equity investment from Elron Electronic Industries Inc., an Israeli high-tech holding company that employs about 50 Russian immigrant programmers who are expected to work on new products that WordStar could distribute worldwide.

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