Facebook Twitter

Novell Inc. officially ‘moves’ to Boston

SHARE Novell Inc. officially ‘moves’ to Boston

PROVO — Novell Inc.'s headquarters location, long a source of confusion, will officially move from Provo to Waltham, Mass., the base from which executives have run the company in recent months.

The company said Wednesday that it would reveal the switch in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today. The filing states that "our headquarters and principal executive offices are located" in Waltham, and that the Waltham address was listed on the company's Web site under that label.

"This reflects the fact that the substantial majority of executive officers are in Waltham, the CEO and the management team. The board of directors meet there. It was appropriate (to switch the designation)," said Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry.

However, he said, none of the Utah operations will change as a result of the headquarters move to the community near Boston.

"There will be no physical movement of personnel in any way," he said. "It's just an acknowledgement that the executive direction of the company has been by people living in Waltham."

The company has about 2,000 employees in Utah, representing about one-third of its total work force. Employees were told about the company's action Wednesday.

"Utah continues to be our largest facility, and we're firmly committed to the employees in Utah, obviously," Lowry said. "In practice, this doesn't mean anything, because there will be no job transfers out of Utah."

Lowry described Novell as having a "very virtual management team" for a long time, noting that one CEO lived in San Jose for several years.

"For the first time in a long time, almost all of the executive officers in the company are in one place, and that's Waltham," he said.

Provo Mayor Lewis Billings said the decision won't negatively impact the city. While Novell has been known as a Utah-based company because its headquarters were housed in Provo, a former CEO lived in California, and current chairman, chief executive officer and president, Jack L. Messman, lives in Massachusetts.

"What is really important to us is that Novell's brain and brawn will remain in Provo," Billings said. "Provo has been a place where the company can recruit tech-savvy employees. We regard Novell as a very important part of our business community. We are excited to see its stock up.

"Provo has been a great place to help Novell succeed. We anticipate that will continue to be the case because we provide the ability to recruit great employees from BYU and other areas."

"It's always nice to be able to say, 'Provo City, headquarters of BYU, Novell or Nu Skin International,' " said Dixon Holmes, assistant director of economic development for the city. "But does that put dollars in city coffers? I've never seen that study.

"Certainly there is the issue of bragging rights. We think it adds to the prestige to be known as the headquarters for a major company. We obviously would always like to retain that kind of a title, but we're still proud to have their campus here, and we think they are a significant contributor to Provo and Utah Valley and Utah, and we hope they continue to be a significant player in the community."

The city that has been Novell's home base has been a source of confusion for years, certainly since Novell acquired Cambridge Technology Partners in 2001. Messman had been president and chief executive of Cambridge, and he and several Cambridge officials were based in the Boston area.

In June 2002, just after Novell acquired SilverStream Software Inc. of Billerica, Mass., The Boston Globe quoted Messman as saying that Novell was "in the process of evaluating whether to move the headquarters to Boston."

The Globe description of the situation at that time was that "Novell may also have moved closer to abandoning its Utah headquarters and setting up shop in the Bay State." The newspaper said then that it was unclear how many Novell employees would move in a headquarters shift, "but the decision to pay $9 a share in cash for SilverStream would seem to give Novell one more reason to make Massachusetts its home."

The company said then that its official position was that headquarters were in Utah while executive offices were in Boston.

In newspaper reports the next day, Messman said there was "nothing" to the rumors that the headquarters would move from Provo to Boston and that "there is no benefit for us to move our headquarters to Massachusetts." But he added that "we are always evaluating everything."

Speculation of a Novell move at that time came months after another high-tech company, data storage device company Iomega Corp., moved its headquarters from Roy — where it employed about 650 and still employs several hundred — to San Diego.

And in various newspaper and Web site reports about Novell the past couple of years, the headquarters were listed as either Provo, Boston, Cambridge or San Jose. Novell once had about 500 employees in the Silicon Valley city but has fewer than 100 now in the Bay Area, and the company last year agreed to sell a five-building campus there to eBay Inc.

The company's primary product development activities are done in Provo, Waltham, Cambridge, Ireland, Germany and India.

"We don't see this as similar to Iomega at all," Billings said, describing Iomega as a manufacturer. "Novell is much more a science and product development company."

E-MAIL: bwallace@desnews.com; twalch@desnews.com