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3/22/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

RailMarketplace loses partner in iRail, Davis on way out


A little more than a month after adding CSX Transportation as a founding partner, RailMarketplace.com subtracted an originating member.
IRail.com recently opted to distance itself from the fledging supply e-marketplace, leaving the founding to Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian National Railway Co., Canadian Pacific Railway, CSXT, Norfolk Southern Corp., Union Pacific Railroad and GE Global eXchange Services.
"We feel separating ourselves from RailMarketplace would better serve the industry as a whole," says Raghav Sharma, iRail chief financial officer. "Essentially, a number of industry sectors, like transit, would not be well served by RailMarketplace, at least not immediately."
IRail had planned to provide RailMarketplace with content, such as supplier catalogs, and technology solutions — mostly for transit railroads — that would determine how the site’s processes would flow.
"The rationale is that [iRail] wanted to do very aggressive growth and the railroads want to do modified growth," says Mark Davis, interim RailMarketplace chief executive officer and UP’s assistant vice president of e-business. "But we went away very happy partners, in fact, we may use their content and marketing services."
However, Sharma disputes that possibility. GE most likely will provide all content management for RailMarketplace, says Jeff Campbell, BNSF vice president and chief sourcing officer, and part of RailMarketplace’s development team.
As the neutral supply site finalized its business plan, RailMarketplace’s interim board decided to incorporate as a privately held company.
"iRail was more interested in RailMarketplace as a publicly traded company," says Campbell, BNSF vice president and chief sourcing officer. "We had a difference of opinion of where RailMarketplace should be in its first year."
Sharma claims RailMarketplace’s decision to incorporate as a private company had nothing to do with iRail’s decision to disengage from the e-marketplace, rather it was based on the site’s freight focus.
Along with the founding member shake-up, other changes also are in store for the business-to-business site. As RailMarketplace completes its articles of incorporation, its interim board soon plans to name a chief operating officer — someone Campbell says may be outside the railroad industry but declined to name.
The new COO eventually would take the CEO reins, sending Davis back to his UP duties.
"I’ve always been the interim CEO and we’ve always been trying to attract a CEO," says Davis. "We may have someone in the fold, so therefore I’ll naturally be transitioning back, which was the plan all along."
Jeff Stagl


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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