, it was a day of starting over.
Two weeks after he announced 1,100 job cuts, Jeffrey T. Arnold abruptly
resigned as co-chief executive of WebMD Thursday.
And Jim Clark, the founder of
, one of the two main companies that merged to form what was until recently known as
, simultaneously resigned from the online health care company's board.
Shortly after the announcement, Martin J. Wygod, now the sole chief executive, attempted to sell analysts in a New York hotel conference room Thursday an entirely new strategy.
Neither Arnold nor Clark cited a reason, and neither stated future plans. Arnold, who said in an interview two weeks ago that his job was going very well, wished the company continued success.
A complicated series of mergers and purchases has left Wygod, who founded a health care software company called
, at the helm of an unprofitable pile of health-related software, Internet and handheld computing assets. Each of the combined companies has outstanding deals and alliances, many of which analysts said make little sense under the new business plan and some of which directly conflict.
"Over the last two weeks, Marty has consolidated power to his closest advisers from Medical Manager," said James Kumpel, analyst for
, who rates the stock buy and whose firm has done no underwriting for the company. The chief financial officer and the chief technical officer of Healtheon have resigned recently and have been replaced by officials from Wygod's side of the business.
As the company completed a series of mergers in recent months, insiders have sold 50 million shares, accelerating the stock's plunge from a 52-week high of $73.19 to Thursday's close of $8.50, down $1.19, or 12.3% for the day.
Between the resignations, layoffs and dissolutions of partnerships, at least another 20 million to 25 million shares will likely hit the market in the next two months, Wygod said. There will be around 359 million shares outstanding.
Wygod said the company also plans to renegotiate all of its contracts and partnerships before Dec. 31, causing it to take a cash charge of up to $100 million, as well as non-cash charges that he declined to specify. As it announced the layoffs just two weeks ago, the company had predicted a charge of $35 million to $45 million, to be taken in the quarter that ended last month.
Filings with the
Securities and Exchanges Commission
showed that the company would lose millions of dollars as one contract became redundant because of the recent string of mergers.
Of the 1,100 employees the company said it would lay off, 575 have already left the company. Most of the remaining 525 are in the company's Atlanta headquarters, Wygod said. Only a few so-called key employees will remain in Georgia, and the company's headquarters will move to the New York/New Jersey area, he said.
The focus of Thursday's analysts meeting, in the eyes of company executives, was what they described as an entirely new strategy for selling doctors an organizational tool that they can incorporate into their hectic lives. Using a hand-held computer, doctors can gain access to patient records, their own schedules, prescription information and the like. Previously, the company focused on selling insurance companies Internet tools that it said would save time and money, allowing WebMD to keep the latter as profit.
From physicians' transactions, the company now expects a 10% revenue loss even though the "provider will have a use for this, therefore they will be willing to pay," Wygod said.
But as he laid out the changes, analysts seemed most vexed by what Wygod would not say, including projected growth rates, whether 2001 revenues include the new changes or the time officials anticipated was necessary to switch doctors to the hand-held computers.
"Our objective is to participate in savings," Wygod said. "There's going to be unlimited revenue streams. There's no way to give you an accurate number at this time."
Asked by Mike Clulow, an analyst for
Warburg Dillion Read
, about any advantages that the company would have over competitors like
( INCX) and
, Wygod mentioned the physicians the company has already won as customers. He noted that the company expects to have $1 billion in cash after it sells
, a plastics and filtration business it recently acquired as a toss-in in the purchase of Medical Manager. And he reminded Clulow of the company's strong relationships with pharmacies and its 1,000 employees servicing doctors.
First and foremost, he said, "it's the management team we have in place and the depth of knowledge."
But Some Analysts Seem Skeptical
But analysts, especially those whose investment firms had done early underwriting for the company, seemed skeptical.
"Some people in this room have demonstrated products that didn't succeed," said Stephen Savas, an analyst for
. "Why do you think you'll succeed given the challenges you face with the transition in the next four to eight quarters?"
Though the company must renegotiate or cancel all of its business relationships by Dec. 31, a business plan is now in place, Wygod assured Savas. "It's ours to lose now," he said. "All we have to do is execute."