IBM Software Exec D'Ambrosio Abruptly Quits

He did not disclose the reason for his sudden departure or if he was taking another post inside the industry. D'Ambrosio reported directly to Steven Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Software.

Calls to D'Ambrosio were being referred to other software executives responsible for the sales and marketing activities inside IBM's software organization, which sells middleware products including WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli and Lotus. IBM did not immediately announce whether it would fill the position being vacated by D'Ambrosio.

A fast-tracker, who at 38 years old was one of the youngest executives to secure a seat on IBM's vaunted Worldwide Management Committee, he surprised colleagues and co-workers with his decision to leave the company. Those who knew the well-groomed and sharply dressed Ambrosio said he appeared destined for the corporate executive suite given his fast ascent at the company and his close working relationship with the company's senior executives, including IBM president and CEO Sam Palmisano with whom D'Ambrosio is said to have strong ties.

D'Ambrosio was considered IBM's billion-dollar man because he was overseeing the investment of more than $1 billion in programs, training, certification, market development, advertising, communication and offerings that assist IBM software partners. D'Ambrosio had said he would be making a $35 million investment in a partner-centric cross-selling program.

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In an extended interview with VARBusiness editorial director Robert C. DeMarzo and industry editor Rich Cirillo on Aug. 7, D'Ambrosio outlined his plans for the second half of the year and the strategy he was putting in place to increase revenue and market penetration for IBM software products. If he had plans to leave IBM he was not showing his cards. He said he was working on a major presentation he was to give to analysts and press in the coming weeks that centered around the profitability of IBM's software business partners and its strategy for the coming months. Ambrosio said he was most proud of how he played a role in helping the various software group executives work together, and credited gains to rivals who were "pushing partners away while IBM was pulling them toward us."

D'Ambrosio also spoke of a strategy built around synergy and specialization for software business partners whom he believed would benefit from working with a deeper portfolio of IBM software.

In his role overseeing sales and marketing for IBM's software group D'Ambrosio had to navigate through a litany of demanding and aggressive "bosses" that included the likes of Janet Perna who oversees DB2, Robert LeBlanc, general manager of Tivoli, John Swainson the integration middleware general manager, and Al Zollar who sits atop Lotus.

D'Ambrosio is leaving IBM software at a time when the unit is prospering while its rivals are struggling to grow their revenue and solution provider loyalty. In the second quarter ended June 30, IBM's overall software revenues were up 8 percent, to $3.3 billion, but it was the middleware products that grew at a robust 10 percent clip during that time frame. Those products make up roughly 80 percent of the software group's revenue. During the quarter, sales of WebSphere were up 17 percent, while IBM's flagship database DB2 grew 11 percent. The group's gross margin was 85 percent in the second quarter, the highest inside IBM.

In 2001, the software group posted revenue of $12.9 billion, producing a gross profit of $10.7 billion.