She doesn’t come up on tech news often but IBM CEO Virginia Rometty is one of the most prominent female leaders in tech with the likes of Lisa Su of AMD. The company has just announced that Virginia Rometty is stepping down on April 6th, 2020 after a challenging eight-year run at the top of the company.
The 62 years old will still serve as Executive Chairman of the Board through the end of the year, but she’s retiring completely after that.
Arvind Krishna, who currently runs the company’s cloud business and who was a key figure in IBM’s Red Hat acquisition will take over from Rometty as CEO. She called Krishna “the right CEO for the next era at IBM.”
Rometty said in a statement:
“Arvind has grown IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software business and led the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Through his multiple experiences running businesses in IBM, Arvind has built an outstanding track record of bold transformations and proven business results, and is an authentic, values-driven leader. He is well-positioned to lead IBM and its clients into the cloud and cognitive era.”
IBM first revealed its Red Hat acquisition back in 2018, announcing that it’s purchasing the American multinational software firm and largest Linux distributor for $34 billion. Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst joined IBM as part of the acquisition — in fact, the board just voted him as the new IBM President, and he’ll step into the role in April, as well.
It is the first time IBM will have a leadership structure with a CEO and separate president. They form a dual executive team—one member with deep IBM experience and another new to the company—focused on reviving its fortunes.
During her time at the helm of one of the U.S.’s most storied companies, shares in IBM fell by more than 25%, lagging other tech giants. Microsoft Corp. shares are up more than 500% during the period. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose around 250% over that time. IBM sales during the period fell more than 25%.
“I think she made a lot of changes,” said David Grossman, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp. “You could argue that she didn’t make enough changes quickly enough, but I think the business has transformed during that period.”
Rometty led IBM during trying times, as the company was struggling to transition its business to focus on new technologies. IBM acquired 65 companies and sold off others that weren’t making as much profit under her leadership. IDC chief analyst Frank Gens told The New York Times:
“It’s been her eight-year project to reposition the company. And after the positive report last quarter, she’s declared victory and retired.” By appointing Krishna and Whitehurst as the company’s leaders, IBM is saying that it’s putting a lot more focus on cloud and cognitive computing going forward.