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The VNXe SMB offensive ultimately may be Tucci’s biggest and boldest bet. That’s no small statement given the 10-year transformation EMC has undergone since the straight-shooting Brooklyn native took the CEO reins in January 2001.
Tucci has spent some $14 billion since he came on board, acquiring 50 companies—including 35 pure software companies, some of which are considered the most innovative in their market segments. Topping them all is EMC’s crown jewel: virtualization market leader VMware.
It has been a long road for Tucci in taking EMC from the 2001 dust heap of the dot-com collapse to the top of the storage software world. EMC could have been swallowed up like Sun Microsystems—one of the so-called Four Horsemen of The Internet—if not for his technology vision. In the early days, skeptics were questioning whether Tucci was the right executive to lead EMC out of the dot-com detritus. “Obviously, I was the new guy so I got a lot of the blame,” he said.
But Tucci set about doing what he has always done: defying the skeptics. He got the same dose of “Do you have what it takes?” when he joined troubled Wang Global in 1990 and took it from a tired office automation products company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to a technology services power through a string of 10 acquisitions. When he was done, Wang’s market capitalization had tripled and the company was sold to Getronics NV.
One of the secrets to that kind of leadership is “a lot of self-confidence,” Tucci said. He doesn’t get too low when the critics are calling for his head or too high when he’s getting praise from the technology cognoscenti. “I don’t get too impressed,” he said in his standard meet-it-head-on tone. “You with me? You have got to provide that bounce in life. And people watch. And if you have that bounce, then the company hopefully gets that bounce. If you continually get too low, too high, too low, too high, you kill the damn thing.”