Arvind Krishna to Replace Ginni Rometty as IBM CEO

After nearly 40 years with IBM and eight years as CEO, Rometty will remain as chairman, while Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst will take over as president.

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Need to Know

  • IBM’s board of directors announced they have elected IBM senior vice president for Cloud and Cognitive Software Arvind Krishna to replace current CEO Ginni Rometty. 
  • Ginni Rometty, a 40 year veteran of IBM, will stay on as chairman of the board. 
  • Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst will become president. 
  • Krishna is reportedly the person behind IBM’s $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat at the end of 2018.  
  • Krishna will take over as CEO on April 6th after a transition period of a few months.

Analysis

IMB announced major changes to its board of directors, some of which came as a surprise to analysts. 

Senior vice president for Cloud and Cognitive Software, Arvind Krishna will replace current CEO and nearly 40-year IBM veteran Ginni Rometty on April 6th. Rometty will remain with IBM as chairman of the board. 

“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,” Rometty said in a release. 

Krishna spearheaded many IBM initiatives including the colossal $34 billion acquisition of open-source enterprise software maker, Red Hat at the end of 2018, an acquisition that left analysts speculating Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst was heir to the IBM CEO throne. The IBM board opted instead to bring Whitehurst’s knowledge and innovation to the role of president. Many believe, including Rometty, that this inside-outside approach is exactly what the company needs to move forward. 

“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty. “He is a brilliant technologist who has played a significant role in developing our key technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud, quantum computing and blockchain.  He is also a superb operational leader, able to win today while building the business of tomorrow.”

“In Arvind and Jim, the Board has elected a proven technical and business-savvy leadership team.”

Many have praised IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat, a move that Krishna reportedly spearheaded. IBM has slowly become a cloud computing leader, and the Red Hat purchase vaulted IBM to the top of the hybrid-cloud ecosystem. In fact, IBM’s CFO Jim Kavanaugh cited Red Hat as core and key to IBM’s Q4 and full-year success in a recent call with investors.

After the announcement of the leadership changes IBM shares jumped as much as 5%.

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