Apple Exec To EMC CFO Signals Changes To Come

Zane Rowe

The appointment of a former top Apple exec to EMC CFO is the latest sign that the legacy, industry-leading storage vendor is moving away from its old school roots and looking more like an upstart.

EMC this week said it hired Zane Rowe as executive vice president and chief financial officer, reporting to EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci.

The appointment fills a gap in EMC's executive team ever since former CFO David Goulden in January became CEO for EMC Information Infrastructure, the storage business of the EMC Federation which also includes Pivotal and VMware.

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Prior to his EMC appointment, Rowe was Apple's head of North America sales where he reported directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. His role at Apple came after spending years as the CFO of Continental Airlines and at United Continental Holdings.

The arrival of Rowe allows Goulden, who has served as interim CFO after his promotion, focus exclusively on his new role. It also fills out EMC's top executive ranks at a time when EMC is going through some industry-changing times, including the possible merger of EMC with or sale of EMC to one of the top system vendors.

The industry is also closely watching whether Tucci will retire in February as planned, or whether he and the company will extend their relationship as has happened in the past.

The hiring of Rowe, coming as it does close on the heels of Goulden's promotion to EMC Information Infrastructure CEO and the March promotion of Jeremy Burton to president of products and marketing for EMC Information Infrastructure, indicates massive yet positive changes going on in EMC, said Jamie Shepard, regional and health systems senior vice president at Lumenate, a Dallas-base solution provider and long-time EMC channel partner.

"Oh my god, this guy Rowe's an animal," Shepard told CRN.

Rowe comes straight from Silicon Valley where he worked on Apple's strategy, and is joining an executive team that includes a couple of the world's most talented British-born executives in Goulden and Burton, Shepard said.

"EMC is bringing in Silicon Valley and European-style to the industry," he said. "I'm pumped about this. Silicon Valley and British boldness, that is awesome."

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It fits in with what Shepard said is a culture of innovation now taking hold at EMC. "I was at a customer's office this week and launched some EMC apps on my iPad to show the EMC architecture," he said. "The customer was impressed. He hadn't seen anything like this before. I also showed him BRM (Backup and Recovery Manager) app, too. Everything is going to be managed by portable devices at EMC. It's really cool."

Also cool is the fact that EMC's new CFO comes with sales experience, which Shepard said fits in with the way EMC is moving as a company.

"EMC is moving towards having 100 percent of its executives, including channel execs, having a sales background," he said. "I've been telling EMC I want people in the channel who can help me sell and not just talk to me about new channel programs."

"Zane brings to EMC a unique blend of extremely valuable skills and experience both as a world-class CFO in complex, multi-business environments and as a highly- accomplished corporate strategist," Tucci said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to having Zane as a key member of the EMC executive leadership team."

EMC declined further comment about Rowe's appointment.