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Copan CEO spins out after rocky year

Mark Ward has stepped down as CEO of Copan Systems after three-and-a-half year on the job, but the executive team says it’s “business as usual” for the MAID pioneer and archiving vendor.

A Copan executive responded to calls about Ward’s status by delivering a statement from the board confirming Ward has left while adding the CEO’s departure does not signal a change in direction.

“Mark Ward is no longer the CEO. The executive team is doing all the day-to-day activities, and its business as usual,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be quoted by name. “We’re committed to achieving our 2009 goals.”

Copan’s 2009 goals aren’t as lofty as they were a year ago when the company was expanding and Ward talked about taking the company public. Copan struggled when the economy crashed, forcing it to slash staff last November while waiting for funding. Copan did land $18.5 million in funding in February, but Ward said at the time he did not expect to increase staff.

A source outside of the company with knowledge of the situation said Ward departed because of a disagreement over strategy with the board. The executive who confirmed Ward’s departure said the board would not say if it was searching for a replacement. With several large storage vendors shopping, Copan would have to be considered a potential acquisition target.

Copan’s management team still includes two founders, CTO Chris Santilli and president of the federal division Will Layton.

Ward, a former sales executive at EMC and StorageTek, became Copan CEO in January of 2006, about a year and a half after the Longmont, Colo.-based vendor began shipping its first MAID disk spin down systems.

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