When Thomas Lewis

stepped down in August as

Ameritrade's

(AMTD) - Get Report

CEO, investors

speculated that his departure opened the company to a merger, and the stock rallied.

Ameritrade's stock since has been caught in the market's downdraft with the other online brokerages, and three months later no deal has appeared for Ameritrade. So despite all the speculation, it now seems Lewis' departure had nothing to do with a pending acquisition of the online broker.

Lewis surfaced Friday as the head of

Campus Pipeline

, a software company that targets universities that want to go online. Lewis' move isn't as unusual as it sounds. For one thing, his background was in technology, not financial services. Before Ameritrade, he was chief information officer for the Executive Office of the president of the United States at the White House during the

Reagan administration

.

In his new role as chairman and chief executive of the Salt Lake City-based start-up, Lewis says he'll be able to use his experience at Ameritrade, where he helped turn around the company's technology while bringing down costs. Campus Pipeline began selling its product about 18 months ago. Lewis, who says he came by the job via a recruiting agency after he had left Ameritrade, started on Nov. 13.

The company has been funded with $50 million by companies including

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Inktomi

(INKT)

, and

Oak Investment Partners

, among others.