XML Solutions Snags GM Exec for Top Post

Ron Shelby, a former senior technology executive at General Motors, has been tapped as the new head of XMLSolutions, a business-to-business software company.

Shelby, 48, will take over as CEO as his predecessor, Kevin Kail, assumes the position of co-chairman and president. XML Solutions develops software that allows businesses to exchange data over the Internet.

According to XML Solutions spokesman Daryn Walters, for the past couple of months, Shelby has been helping to guide the company as a member of its board of directors.

"Ron can help us grow the company better than anyone," Walters said. "He has followed us since we were founded [in June 1999] and given friendly advice to the company. He knows what our business means. We have a great deal of respect for him." Walters said that although Shelby wasn't looking to leave GM, where he held a "position of prestige," he just couldn't pass up the offer to take the helm of XMLSolutions.

Walters said Shelby will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 160-person company, which has offices in Europe and Asia, as well as the US.

"[Our company] is focused on leveraging legacy systems for new e-business initiatives," Walters said. "And [Shelby] is an expert in legacy systems and e-business." Peter O'Kelly, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group in Boston, said Shelby's move to XMLSolutions suggests that the XML space is maturing and that it's becoming important to bring in a person who has traditional business and management experience like Shelby does.

"I didn't look at this [announcement] and say, 'Oh, gosh, something must be wrong with GM's plans in this space,' but just the opposite -- that GM must have completed all its plans in this space and it was hard for a pioneer like Shelby [to move forward]," O'Kelly said.

John S. DeSimone, an analyst at The Delphi Group, agreed that it made perfect sense for XMLSolutions to hire Shelby.

"As [these companies] become more prominent in this space, they need more advertising and marketing power," DeSimone said.

Kate Fessenden, an analyst at Boston-based Aberdeen Group (US), said XMLSolutions is growing so fast and rolling out products so quickly that it needs a CEO with an understanding of the business and where the company is headed.

"Ron's a great choice," she said.

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