ViewSonic Partners Say Milne Likely Forced Out


ViewSonic Corp. channel partners speculated Wednesday that the display vendor's recent market troubles may have led to the departure of Matthew Milne as president, with one theorizing that Milne was "forced out" as head of the company.

Milne's departure was announced internally, Tuesday, in a message to employees from James Chu, ViewSonic's chairman and CEO, according to a source inside the company. The company has not publicly announced the departure of Milne, who took over as president of ViewSonic in February 2005.

Partners painted a picture of a company that has lost its way with its channel. Like several other VARs, Ed Greenburg said his company's interaction with ViewSonic sales representatives had declined in recent months. But the president of Westford, Mass.-based IT Access said despite those issues, he wasn't expecting an executive shake-up.

"I'm very shocked right now. I think he was forced out. He had to be, especially with the drop in market share that they had," Greenburg said.

ViewSonic recently reported that its Americas sales dropped to $163.7 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 compared with $192.6 million in the year ago quarter.

Greenburg thinks ViewSonic will have to renew ties with its channel customers."I think that they have to make a larger push into the channel as their market share has shown," he said, adding that IT Access communication with ViewSonic had disappeared.

"I haven't heard or seen anything from ViewSonic, and they used to keep in quite a bit of contact with us because we do a pretty brisk business with ViewSonic monitors," Greenburg said. "That, I think, is causing a major problem. I get calls or e-mails or something from my BenQ reps and my Samsung reps all the time. And [ViewSonic reps] just aren't in contact at all. I haven't heard from them in a long time about any of the rebates they used to offer. Nothing. Zero."

Distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data both distribute ViewSonic products, but neither company replied to inquiries for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

J.R. Guthrie, president of Advantage Computers, Tucson, Ariz., said his company was once a reseller of ViewSonic products, but grew unhappy with the failure rate of its LCD products.

"We kind of got cold feet. Right now we've been selling BenQ and Samsung. We moved up to what I think are the two premium brands," Guthrie said. "That's what I'm going for. I'm going for as close to a no-break as humanly possible."

ViewSonic reseller Manuel Villa, president of Via Technologies, San Antonio, Tex., said that he has been pleased with his ViewSonic relationship and with the quality of the display vendor's products. Still, he wasn't surprised by Milne's departure.

"The product is good. The price point is good and my customers are happy, therefore I'm happy. But it's a pretty competitive industry out there. Everybody's coming up with programs out there and trying to get our attention," Villa said.

Several calls to ViewSonic for comment on Milne's departure had not been returned on Wednesday afternoon.