In Its Hunt For A New CEO, Citrix Hires Executive Search Firm That Helped Microsoft Find Its New Leader


Citrix Systems hired Heidrick & Struggles, the Chicago-based executive search firm that led Microsoft's CEO search, to help it find a replacement for departing CEO Mark Templeton, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told CRN this week.

A Citrix spokesperson declined to comment on whether it's working with Heidrick & Struggles in its CEO search, but did provide the following emailed statement to CRN:

"We are doing an extensive internal and external search for our next CEO. We aren’t commenting on the progress yet, but as you know, the technology industry has a lot of smart and exceptional leaders," the spokesperson said in the email.

Heidrick & Struggles representatives didn't respond to a request for comment.

[Related: With Microsoft's Help, VMware Looks To Take Bite Out Of Citrix's XenApp Business]

Templeton, who took a leave of absence from Citrix last October, returned in February but said he'd be retiring within a year. Templeton joined Citrix in 1995 and has been its CEO since 2001. He has said he plans to stay on as CEO until his replacement is hired.

Sources told CRN that Citrix wants its next CEO to be a seasoned software industry executive with experience running a global business. At this stage, Citrix has decided that person will come from outside the company, sources said.

Al Monserrat, senior vice president of sales and services at Citrix, is a highly regarded executive who is seen as the top internal candidate for the CEO position, but Citrix's board of directors has ruled him out, sources said.

Citrix COO and CFO David Henshall, who served as interim CEO during Templeton's three-month leave of absence, is not considered to be in the running for the CEO job, sources said.

Microsoft could be an attractive hunting ground for Citrix since it boasts several former and current executives with the kind of experience the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based vendor is looking for, sources told CRN. The two vendors also have traditionally been close industry partners and each knows the other's technology inside out.

Citrix's next CEO will be facing challenges on multiple fronts. VMware is going hard after Citrix in desktop virtualization and last November poached two key Citrix executives, Sumit Dhawan and Bob Schultz, to help lead the charge. On Wednesday, VMware revealed plans to add application virtualization to its virtual desktop product, something it achieved by working with Microsoft.

In addition, Microsoft's release of Office For iPad apps stands to obviate what has been a key selling point for Citrix's XenApp and XenDesktop software.

If that weren't enough, Templeton is one of the most popular CEOs in the enterprise tech industry, with the kind of leadership abilities that aren’t easily replaced.

Citrix still has solid technology, but it's getting outpaced by the competition in marketing and other areas, one partner told CRN, speaking on condition he not be named. That's perhaps the biggest challenge Citrix's new CEO will face.

"I definitely think they are at a bit of a crossroads. They really lack a certain identity and seem unsure on how to capitalize on their product set, which is still a leader in virtualization," said the source. "They have good technology, but they don’t seem to understand how to deliver it and partner correctly."

PUBLISHED APRIL 9, 2014

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