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BOSTON (AP) _ Mitchell Kapor, 35, who built Lotus Development Corp. into the world’s largest independent maker of personal-computer software, said this morning that he has resigned as chairman for personal reasons.
Kapor, who founded Lotus in 1982, will remain as a director and consultant during the next year, the Cambridge-based company said. He resigned Thursday.
Jim P. Manzi, 34, the company’s president and chief executive, will succeed Kapor as chairman while keeping his existing titles.
″I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching over the past two or three months. I was thinking of the enormous changes that Lotus had gone through,″ Kapor said in an interview this morning.
He said his decision to leave was based on ″exclusively personal factors. There were no business decisions that I made or didn’t make or Jim Manzi made or didn’t make that had anything to do with this.
″I felt myself in a stage when I wanted the freedom to explore without any preconditions or restraints,″ he continued. ″That urge to explore came to the fore in part precisely because the transition of Lotus from the startup stage to the stage is has achieved has been so successful.″
Kapor said he was not leaving with any specific plan for his future. He added he had signed an agreement prohibiting him from involvement in any endeavor that would directly compete with Lotus.
Kapor founded Lotus in April 1982 and served as president until 1984, when he was named chairman and Manzi became president and chief operating officer.
Manzi has gradually assumed responsibility for all company operations and was named chief executive in April, Lotus said.
Lotus’ first and biggest success was its 1-2-3 program, an electronic spreadsheet for displaying and manipulating financial information. There are 1.5 million copies in use, making it the best-selling business software ever.
However, the company has had trouble finding another big hit and is perceived by some on Wall Street as a one-product company.
Kapor seems to see himself as a fast-moving entrepreneur and probably did not enjoy the challenges of running Lotus once it got big and slowed down, said Kathy Porteus, president of Strand Research Associates in Centerville, Mass., a high-technology research and consulting firm.
″This is what happens with a lot of the entrepreneurs who start a company. It’s always a problem to bring it from its growth stage to its mature stage,″ she said.
Kapor agreed, saying his decision to leave was similar to that of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, who left the personal computer giant saying that working there was no longer any fun after the company grew so big.
″In terms of providing the personal sort of central inspiration and motivation, I think that there’s a natural time of parting of the ways,″ Kapor said.
Lotus had net income of $11.4 million in its first fiscal quarter, up 18 percent from $9.6 million a year earlier. Revenue was $69.3 million, up 55 percent from $44.7 million a year earlier.
″Mitchell’s contributions go far beyond setting the foundation for a remarkable company success story,″ Manzi said in a statement. ″He contributed a product which has fundamentally changed the way many people do business, and created a platform for a series of products and services that will continue to improve business productivity.″