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Ginni Rometty is Stepping Down as CEO of IBM

By Anne Chou
Ginni Rometty of IBM
Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com

International Business Machines Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty is stepping down after eight years as head of the tech giant. Rometty will be succeeded by Arvind Krishna, who is IBM’s senior vice president for cloud and cognitive software. Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, the open-source enterprise software maker that IBM acquired for $34 billion last year, will become the company’s president.

Rometty, one of the most high-profile female business leaders and the first woman to head Big Blue, will step down on April 6. She will remain as chairman of IBM’s board until the end of the year, when she will retire after almost 40 years with the company, IBM said in a statement on Thursday.

Rometty became IBM’s chief executive in 2012 during a challenging time for the company as it struggled to transition to new businesses such as cloud computing where it lagged behind competitors, including Amazon and Microsoft. She undertook an ambitious plan to revive the company by betting its future on the lucrative world of cloud-computing, primarily through IBM’s purchase of Red Hat, the company’s largest acquisition ever and one of the biggest in U.S. tech history.

During her tenure, Rometty also divested unprofitable businesses and expanded into artificial intelligence with developments such as Watson, an AI data-analytics platform.

Krishna, a principal architect of IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat, has worked for IBM for almost 30 years. He has led the development of several emerging technologies at IBM such as artificial intelligence, cloud, quantum computing and blockchain.

“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty in a press release. “He is a brilliant technologist who has played a significant role in developing our key technologies.”

The new appointments will be the first time that the company will have a leadership structure with a CEO and separate president. Rometty noted that Krishna and Whitehurst are a “proven technical and business-savvy leadership team.”

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