No Hard Feelings In VMware CEO Bake-Off: Sanjay Poonen, Raghu Raghuram

‘Big week for Raghu Raghuram, new CEO of VMware, delighted for him, he’s been like an elder bro to me!’ says VMware COO Sanjay Poonen on Twitter.


Although being passed over for VMware’s new CEO role, Sanjay Poonen – who is expected to leave VMware in the near future – has nothing but delight and respect for his “elder bro” and incoming CEO Raghu Raghuram.

In a recent tweet on Twitter, Poonen said he was “delighted for” Raghuram and encouraged the two to attend another Golden State Warriors NBA basketball game together, but this time, Raghuram should pay for the tickets.

Big week for @RaghuRaghuram, new CEO of @VMware, delighted for him, he's been like an elder bro to me! Now Raghu, we need to go to the @Warriors playoffs (fully vaccinated), like we did in this photo in 2018 when #Dubs swept @Cavs. This time however, the CEO pays for tickets!!!😃

— Sanjay Poonen (@spoonen) May 15, 2021

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Raghuram quickly responded to Poonen’s Tweet with his own writing, ‘Of course!’

Raghuram and Poonen have worked together in top executive positions at VMware for the past eight years. Both were considered the front-runners for the new CEO position following the departure this year of former CEO Pat Gesinger who left to head Intel.

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

Raghuram is an 18-year VMware veteran with vast experience inside the company both as a technologist and executive leader. He is currently chief operating officer of products and cloud services at VMware, slated to officially become the new CEO on June 1.

Poonen, chief operating officer of customer operations, has been with VMware for eight years and overseas all of VMware’s sale, alliances and customer operations. Following the announcement last week that Raghuram was selected to be VMware’s new CEO, Poonen unveiled on social media that he would be leaving VMware’s in the near future for the “next adventure” in his IT career.

“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.”

Poonen is one of the most well-known and charismatic executives in the IT industry — from playing piano on stage during VMware conferences to being very active on social media and social issues.

Even though a fiery competitor, Poonen is known for giving his rivals their dues. For example, Poonen saluted Nutanix’s former CEO Dheeraj Pandey last year after learning of his upcoming departure.

In an interview with CRN, Raghuram laid out his vision to “turbo-charge” VMware into becoming the kingpin of multi-cloud computing in the new hybrid cloud, data-driven world.

“If you look at what’s happening in the industry, we are at the start of a new era of multi-cloud computing,” said Raghuram. “We are uniquely poised with our anywhere, any app, any cloud strategy, to help our customers transform themselves and accelerate their digital business in this multi-cloud era. That’s really is what I was appointed to do, to make us the leader in multi-cloud computing. That’s really the focus of the next few years. Like I said, the great news is we’re already going down this path, but now we get an opportunity to turbo-charge and accelerate this even further.”