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Superstar Sanjay Poonen Is Leaving VMware, Fallout From CEO Pick

‘Sanjay was an advocate for the channel,’ says Future Tech CEO Bob Venero. ‘Sanjay understood the channel inside and out and ensured that channel partners were supported in the proper way to run their businesses.’

VMware Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Poonen, the highly respected seven-year company veteran who was overseeing all of VMware’s sales and customer operations, is leaving the multicloud software powerhouse after being passed over as CEO.

Poonen, a software superstar in his own right who built the company’s end user compute organization into $1 billion business, said in a tweet on Tuesday morning that he would share more on his “next adventure” in the next few weeks and month.

“It’s been a great time at VMware the past seven years; friendships created, all we’ve built together, employees touched, and customers/partners impacted,” wrote Poonen. “Also excited about what I’m going to be doing next…Stay tuned.”

[RELATED: VMware’s New CEO: Dell Spin-Off Creates ‘Switzerland Of Multi-Cloud’]

Poonen’s departure comes after VMware announced that it had selected 18-year company veteran Raghu Raghuram – who was COO of products and cloud services – as CEO.

At the same time, VMware announced that Poonen had made the “personal decision” to leave VMware. “I extend my warm congratulations to Raghu on his promotion to CEO and know he will take the company to new heights,” said Poonen in a prepared statement. ”I will be cheering on the company’s success, as I embark on my next adventure.”

VMware said Sumit Dhawan was named president, taking over the worldwide sales, partner and commercial organization responsibilities previously overseen by Poonen.

Jed Ayres, the CEO of IGEL, the maker of the Linux edge operating system, credited Poonen with transforming VMware’s end user compute business into a force to be reckoned with in the VDI market.

“Sanjay is a world class executive who led from the front and always did it with integrity,” said Ayres. “I am sure he is going to land as a CEO at a great company. He took a haggard end user compute business at VMware and built it into a $1 billion powerhouse that was unrivaled in terms of its cloud workspace reach and breadth with security, management and cross platform capabilities.”

Ayres - who has known Poonen for a decade- said the 31 year industry veteran, who started as a Microsoft software engineer, has the “aura, energy and magnetism” that distinguishes great leaders. “Sanjay is a fierce competitor and also someone that is not afraid to talk about his faith,” he said.

Before joining VMware in 2013, Poonen was president of the platform, applications and industries group for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software behemoth SAP.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech Enterprise, No. 96 on the 2020 CRN Solution Provider 500, said Poonen was a channel savvy executive who always stepped up for partners.

“We worked with Sanjay in the past on various VMware initiatives,” said Venero. “Sanjay is a great leader. There is no doubt that he is going to do well in his next endeavor, whatever he chooses to do. There are a lot of organizations who would do well to have Sanjay as part of the team.”

Venero said Poonen never lost touch with what was going on in the sales trenches. “Sanjay was an advocate for the channel,” said Venero. “Sanjay understood the channel inside and out and ensured that channel partners were supported in the proper way to run their businesses. Sometimes when executives get to that level they end up in an ivory tower and lose touch with customers and partners where the work gets done. Sanjay was the kind of leader who always stayed in touch with what was happening with both partners and customers.”

Worth Davis, president of the Solution Provider Business at Computex, No. 182 on the CRN SP500s, said he expects his company’s strong relationship with the software maker to continue with Raghuram taking the top job.

“We have a wonderful relationship with VMware as one of their original partners when they broke into them market,” said Davis. “We expect that to continue that with the leadership changes. Congratulations to Raghu on his appointment as CEO. At the same time, best wishes to Sanjay on his future endeavors.”

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