Citrix Says CEO Search Is Ongoing, Doesn't Squash Rumors That Templeton Has Changed Mind About Retiring

As Citrix Systems' search for a new CEO approaches the five-month mark, partners and Wall Street analysts are speculating that current CEO Mark Templeton may have decided to delay his planned retirement.

Templeton, 61, remains involved in Citrix's day-to-day operations to such an extent that some employees and partners are wondering if he's had a change of heart about leaving.

"The word internally is that Mark works awfully hard for someone that is retiring," one source familiar with the matter told CRN, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It appears as though he will be taking his time and probably stay on for at least two more years."

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Templeton, who joined Citrix in 1995 and has been its CEO since 2001, revealed in January that he'd be retiring within a year and would stick around to help find the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based vendor find his successor.

A Citrix spokesperson told CRN the vendor is still searching for a new CEO but declined to comment on the status of these efforts.

Templeton "intends to stay very involved with the company even after a new CEO is named, so Citrix will continue to benefit from his visionary leadership beyond 2014," the spokesperson said in an email.

Templeton has also told partners in private conversations that he's planning to stay actively involved with Citrix. "He’s made clear statements about his concern for the Citrix family going forward and that he would never abandon us," said one partner.

In a meeting with around 200 global Citrix partners in May, Templeton reportedly became emotional when talking about leaving the company.

"In a tearful heart-to-heart with the partners in the room, he shared that Citrix is 'His Baby' and that he will always be passionate and working with Citrix in some fashion," DJ Eshelman, a data center architecture consultant at GTRI, a Denver-based Citrix partner, said in a blog post in early June.

Another Citrix partner who witnessed Templeton's speech told CRN he came away with the impression that Templeton wasn't leaving the company anytime soon.

Sources told CRN in April that Citrix's board had hired Heidrick & Struggles, the Chicago-based executive search firm that handled Microsoft's CEO search, to find Templeton's replacement. At the time, sources told CRN that Citrix had ruled out internal candidates and would focus on hiring a CEO from outside the company.

A spokesperson from Heidrick & Struggles declined comment on whether it is involved in the Citrix CEO search.

Templeton deflected analysts' questions about the CEO search during Citrix's first quarter earnings call in April. "There's no data to share on CEO search," he said at the time, adding that Citrix had interviewed candidates and that the search was "very active."

Asked what sort of CEO would be qualified to lead Citrix, Templeton said the person would need to be "strong product leader and product-oriented visionary" and a "great team builder." They'd also need to be a fit for Citrix's corporate culture, he said.

Citrix is facing mounting competitive pressure from VMware and other vendors, and several partners told CRN that in light of these challenges, this isn't a good time to bring in a new CEO. Citrix shares have risen 3.6 percent since the beginning of the year.

If Templeton does stay on as CEO, Citrix partners likely wouldn't complain, as he has long been a well-respected figure both in the Citrix channel and in the broader enterprise technology industry.