The 25 Blockbuster IT Executive Moves of 20114:00 PM EST Tue. Jan. 10, 2012
Hold your "I can't believe you forgot" comments; we know there were many, many more. CRN tried to make this list a mix of the most notable tech industry CEO and president moves -- departures and appointments -- along with a smattering of notable changes among top vendor executives channel partners know well. While you're at it, also be sure to check out our separate roundup of the 25 blockbuster channel executive moves of 2011.
Something was rotten in the state of Mitel: the channel focus had lagged and direct-indirect conflict was at an all time high. Richard McBee, who took over as Mitel's CEO in January 2011, knew he had to take steps right away to assure longtime Mitel partners that the vendor was still a legitimate channel force. The news since McBee's appointment has been net-positive: new channel programs, new channel managers and the technology advantage that may prove Mitel's ace in the hole: its focus on virtualized voice.
It was a curious and transitional year for Blue Coat Systems, which at the end of 2011 was showing signs of life after a brutal Q1 earnings report and the departure of former President and CEO Michael Borman.
Borman, who became a legend in the channel during his tenure at IBM, held the Blue Coat job for less than a year, and his replacement, Greg Clark, has already overseen one of the bigger moves in the company's history -- its acquisition, in December, by private equity mover and shaker Thoma Bravo, and its exit from the public company spotlight.
In seven years as CEO of wireless specialist Meru Networks, Ihab Abu-Hakima turned the company from buzzed-about curiosity to cutting-edge wireless networking vendor, with a successful IPO in 2010 to boot. But Abu-Hakima disclosed in fall 2011 that he would leave the company within the six months to make way for a new CEO, something Abu-Hakima reiterated to CRN was the right thing to after he'd achieved his personal and corporate goals with the company.
As the hottest company in the next generation firewall space -- really, the network security space -- Palo Alto Networks' long search for a new CEO was a closely watched process in Silicon Valley. Finally, the company confirmed in August 2011 that it had its man: Mark McLaughlin, the former CEO of VeriSign and a longtime security veteran. In an interview with CRN at Palo Alto's partner conference in New Orleans in November, McLaughlin kept the message simple: his goal is to keep Palo Alto chugging along, and maintain the channel focus that's endeared it to so many security and infrastructure focused VARs.
Juniper Networks is proving a remarkably consistent setting for Microsoft veterans seeking a second-act; Kevin Johnson, Juniper's CEO, and Emilio Umeoka, its worldwide channel chief, are just two 'softies that have walked through the Juniper turnstile in recent years. In July 2011 came another: Bob Muglia, who was ousted from Microsoft following 23 years there and became Juniper's executive vice president, Software Solutions Division. With Juniper putting so much of its networking focus on data center software, Muglia's guidance could prove invaluable.
What in the world is going on at D-Link? As the year wound down, some of the company's top North America-based executives began to exit, and in mid-December came word that Nick Tidd, longtime channel executive and D-Link's President, North America, would be joining them. D-Link VARs credit Tidd and members of his team for turning D-Link's channel program into a solutions-focused support system; his next port of call is still unknown.
It was a move long in the making, but in February, Avnet finally confirmed that Rick Hamada would succeed longtime CEO Roy Vallee in July. Hamada, a 29-year veteran of Avnet, was president and COO before assuming the distributor's top job, while Vallee is continuing on as executive chairman.
John Wookey was until last year best known as a software development executive who shook up the Oracle-SAP rivalry by leaving Oracle for SAP three years earlier. In 2011, however, Wookey left SAP, too, eventually winding up at Salesforce.com, where he is now executive vice president of advanced applications.
Marius Haas presided over some of the biggest gains for HP's networking division in its history, but ultimately sought a return to an M&A and investment role much like the one he enjoyed at the computing titan before his networking promotion. Haas left HP in May to become an industry advisor to private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., where he is working with the KKR team to identify new investments in the technology sector. At HP Networking, Haas was replaced by Bethany Mayer, who headed the unit on an interim basis and then was formally appointed in October 2011.
More than a year after a stroke sidelined him from day-to-day operations at Intel, Sean Maloney had one of the more remarkable bounce-backs of the year, returning to Intel in January 2011 and then in May being tapped to run Intel's China business as chairman of Intel China. Maloney, who had previously been executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Architecture Group, has long been viewed as a candidate to succeed Intel CEO Paul Otellini.
Gary Moore was the focus of one of Cisco's most telling moves in 2011: the appointment of a chief operating officer in February. Moore, who added COO to his title of executive vice president, is the first COO in Cisco's history, and the focus of his new, high-profile role soon became clear: head up the streamlining of Cisco's worldwide operations as part of a company-wide restructuring. As a result, many of the big restructuring moves Cisco made in 2011 have Moore's fingerprints on them.
What a [bleeped] up year for Yahoo, as former CEO Carol Bartz might say. The salty-tongued Bartz was fired from Yahoo in September after failing to turn the struggling Web portal company around, and the media circus surrounding the exact details of her ouster -- canned by phone call from Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock -- was almost as noisy as news of the firing itself. The search for Bartz's replacement finally ended in early January 2012, as Yahoo named former PayPal President Scott Thompson its new chief executive.
As the first-ever federal CIO, Vivek Kundra was a driving force behind many of the federal government's most pressing technology initiatives, including its embrace of cloud computing. But Kundra decided to exit the Obama Administration over the summer, announcing in June that he would step down to take a position at Harvard University. Replacing Kundra in August was Steven VanRoekel, a former top Microsoft executive and most recently executive director of citizen and organizational engagement at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In one of the uglier CEO departures of 2011, former Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci stepped down in March 2011 after struggling to "reach a consensus" with Acer's board of directors. Rumors about Lanci's next port of call were frequent over the succeeding months, and in January 2012, Lanci was finally confirmed as the new head of the EMEA PC unit for Acer rival Lenovo.
About four years after joining McAfee, David DeWalt in July 2011 confirmed his departure as president. DeWalt's next big move -- he was rumored to be in the mix for the top job at Palo Alto Networks that ultimately went to Mark McLaughlin -- is still to be determined.
Advanced Micro Devices had 2011's first legitimate executive departure blockbuster: Dirk Meyer resigned from his position as CEO in the second week of January, an exit that became one of several major moves at AMD throughout the next few months. Meyer, a 14-year AMD veteran, had taken over for former AMD CEO Hector Ruiz about two and a half years earlier.
The search for Dirk Meyer's replacement atop AMD finally ended in August, when the chipmaker confirmed Rory Read, the highly regarded former president and COO of Lenovo, its new CEO. Read was also appointed to AMD's board of directors, and brought to AMD, among other things, a reputation for channel advocacy.
No major vendor had a wilder, crazier year than Hewlett Packard, which saw some of its highest-ranked and best known executives either ousted or marginalized in favor of others. Ann Livermore, thrice passed over for HP's top job, left her post as executive vice president of enterprise business and took a position on HP's board of directors; Dave Donatelli, Bill Veghte and Jan Zadak, respectively executive vice presidents of HP ESSN, software and global sales, all got bumps; and Randy Mott, CIO, Pete Bocian, EVP and chief administration officer, Shane Robison, chief strategy and technology officer, Gary Budzinski, vice president of HP Technology Services, Thomas Hogan, executive vice president of enterprise business sales and marketing, Tom Iannotti, vice president of HP Enterprise Services, Joe Bottazzi, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Technology Services, Americas, and Michael Holston, HP's executive vice president and general counsel, were all gone by the end of the year.
Nearly a year ago came word that Eric Schmidt would pass the Google CEO torch to Google co-founder Larry Page in April. Schmidt had been CEO of Google since August 2001 and presided over its ascent to one of the premier technology companies in the world, so the move was a major changing of the guard by any definition, even with Page getting back into the operational driver's seat of the company he and Sergey Brin founded all those years ago now. Schmidt remains Google's executive chairman.
The list of IBM CEOs is small and select: a prestigious group of names that now includes its first female: Virginia "Ginni" Rometty, the 30-year IBM veteran who was confirmed in October 2011 as Big Blue's new top dog. Rometty officially took the reigns at IBM on Jan. 1, 2012, and made several executive changes, including the apparent promotion of channel chief Rich Hume to running IBM's European operations.
Rometty's appointment at IBM, of course, means the passing of the torch from another IBM legend: Sam Palmisano, whose last day as CEO of Big Blue was Dec. 31, though he'll continue as chairman. Palmisano, who became CEO in 2002, presided over one of IBM's biggest-ever strategic moves: its decision to sell off its PC division, in 2004, to China-based Lenovo and also set IBM on a course defined by software and services, and less on hardware sales.
Leo Apotheker was fired as president and CEO of HP in September, closing the book on one of the most turbulent chapters in HP's history. Apotheker's ouster was applauded by HP channel partners, many of whom saw the former SAP leader as out of touch with the channel and as many some questionable decisions as HP's chief, including that HP was considering the sale or spin-off of its $42 billion Personal Systems Group. With Apotheker the third HP CEO in seven years to be unceremoniously shown the door in an all-out media circus, the pressure has shifted to his successor…
…former eBay president and CEO and onetime California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who was named to HP's top job the same hair-standing day in September when Apotheker was drummed out. Whitman has resolved to end the drama on HP, and the early notice from VARs who have met with and heard her out on HP's 2012 strategy have been positive.
One of the biggest indicators that 2011 was a historic time for executive moves is that the HP Apotheker/Whitman circus didn't even register as the most notable IT executive transition of the year. No, the biggest of them all happened down the road a piece from HP at Apple, where Steve Jobs, iconic founder and longtime CEO, resigned in August, his health failing. Taking the late Jobs' place was longtime deputy Tim Cook, who had been COO, and also joined Apple's board of directors. Cook is now charged with continuing Apple's astounding growth and keeping investors grinning from ear to ear -- no easy task considering the man he replaced and the legacy that man left.
The word "iconic" seems painfully inadequate when describing Steve Jobs, Apple's former CEO and a legend in the tech industry, who resigned from Apple's top job in August and passed away less than two months later. Jobs had battled pancreatic cancer and had been in more health for some time. Hi legacy as an innovator, a business leader and an American personality, is certainly assured.