Data center News
Dell Co-COO Chuck Whitten’s Sudden Exit: 5 Big Things To Know
The sudden departure of Dell Technologies Co-COO Chuck Whitten comes as the tech giant endures an industrywide PC sales slump and announced 6,650 layoffs earlier this year but holds No. 1 positions in several categories, including x86 servers and PC workstations.
On his first earnings call as a Dell employee, Anthony Charles “Chuck” Whitten was invited to the microphone by Jeff Clarke, who at the time had just added “co” to his longtime title of COO, which he now shared with the man he was introducing.
“He and I have worked together for many years alongside the rest of the leadership team to help shape Dell’s strategy and growth initiatives,” Clarke said on the August 2021 call. “Welcome, Chuck.”
Whitten then told investors the company was well positioned for its next phase of growth.
“We have never been more optimistic about our ability to innovate, delight customers, deliver growth and create value for all shareholders in the coming years,” he said on the 2021 call.
As he leaves two years later, the company’s growth has slowed. Amid the nascent generative AI boom, Dell is mired in an industrywide period of slumping PC sales—without VMware’s high-margin software or enough infrastructure sales to soften the blow.
Partners who spoke with CRN and asked not to be named said they believe Whitten’s departure, which was announced July 28, shows the toll the economy has taken on the company, which rode the pandemic’s wave of technology refresh to record heights of sales only to see revenue growth stagnate. In February, Dell announced plans to cut 6,650 jobs. In March, Dell’s annual revenue hit another record, but it grew 1 percent this time versus 17 percent growth the year before.
That said, as of June 8—the first quarter of its 2024 fiscal year—Dell has been No. 1 in research firm IDC’s tracking among x86 server sales for six consecutive years, holding a dominant position in units moved for the past 25 quarters. In addition, Dell was No. 1 in external enterprise storage with a 31.5 percent revenue share over rivals, and in storage software with 11.2 percent of the revenue. It holds the top place in hyperconverged and converged systems and in purpose-built backup appliances. It is also first in PC workstations with 46.5 percent of that market and in PC monitors with 19 percent of the market.
“As we enter a new economy, it’s not surprising that they’re shifting away from having a co-COO,” one Dell partner told CRN. “Clarke has long been seen as the lead COO so it ultimately comes down to efficiency with how your leadership teams are acting and compensated. Redundant COOs seemed unnecessary.”
Another Dell partner called it predictable, since Clarke—a near-legendary figure in IT—does not seem to need help leading.
“It is difficult for partners to speculate on the strategic reasons behind executive changes at large companies such as Dell,” the partner said. “Dell has a very strong leadership team, and it is not surprising that Jeff will continue in the role given his stature in the company.”
Whitten is not the only member of the C-suite departing. The company’s longtime CFO, Tom Sweet, announced he is retiring this month. He is being replaced by Dell’s comptroller, Yvonne McGill.