Published allegations last year that he
doctored his resume, fabricated his military career and lied about his personal
history had nothing to do with the decision by Jeff Papows to step down as
president and chief executive officer of Lotus Development Corp., he said here
today at a press briefing during the annual Lotusphere trade show.
The topic was bound to come up with a couple of hundred reporters assembled to question Papows in an open forum also attended by IBM Corp. executives. IBM owns Lotus, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and recently announced that Al Zollar, general manager of IBM's network computing software division, will succeed Papows as Lotus CEO and president on Feb. 1.
Late in the 90-minute session today, Papows was asked if his decision to leave Lotus after seven years had anything to do with the allegations that surfaced in a Wall Street Journal article published in April of last year. Papows said at the time that tales of his wild military adventures and other feats of derring-do were largely the work of "office-cooler gossip." He denied exaggerating his military history in order to drum up more business for Lotus.
Soon after that story was published, the Journal and other newspapers reported that former female Lotus employees had accused Papows in complaints lodged with state authorities of both harassing and treating them unfairly.
Though the topic has been broached numerous times since last April, Papows said that the question about his decision to leave is "fair." But the Journal article and subsequent coverage by other media titles of the allegations have nothing to do with his decision to resign, he said.
A "ridiculous" amount of scrutiny has been paid to "my relationship with my parents and the veracity of my hobbies," as a result of the Journal article, Papows said, adding that "it has absolutely nothing to do with my decision to leave (Lotus)."
Papows spoke during both his morning keynote speech and the press briefing of the affection he feels toward employees, customers, Lotus and IBM.
"I love this place," he said at the press briefing. "I absolutely love this place."
But Papows is ready to move on to work for an unnamed independent software company, he said.
In the end, the press scrutiny puzzled Papows because he cannot understand why computer industry executives are accorded the same level of interest as celebrities, he said. Computer industry leaders simply aren't that interesting, he added.
Despite placing him in the public spotlight, the Journal article was "nothing but a minor annoyance," Papows said.
Lotus, in Cambridge, can be reached at +1-617-577-8500 or at http://www.lotus.com/.