Shares of IBM rose nearly 4% in extended trading. They have lost about a quarter of their value since Ginni Rometty took over as CEO in January 2012

By Ian Horswill

Posted on January 31, 2020

International Business Machines Corp (IBM) CEO Ginni Rometty, one of the most high-profile female CEOs in the US, is to leave the company after almost 40 years’ service with the board agreeing to appoint Arvind Krishna as CEO from April.

Arvind Krishna, 57, was IBM Senior Vice President for Cloud and Cognitive Software and also the principal architect of IBM’s US$34 billion acquisition of Red Hat last year.

“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Ginni Rometty in a statement. “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. 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, Arvind Krishna, Ginna Rometty

Ginni Rometty, 62, became Chairman, President and CEO of IBM in 2012. During her tenure she made bold changes to reposition IBM for the future, investing in high value segments of the IT market and optimising the company’s portfolio, the IBM statement said.

Under Ginni Rometty’s leadership, IBM acquired 65 companies, built out key capabilities in hybrid cloud, security, industry and data, and AI both organically and inorganically, and successfully completed one of the largest technology acquisitions in history. She reinvented more than 50% of IBM’s portfolio, built a US$21 billion hybrid cloud business and established IBM’s leadership in AI, quantum computing and blockchain, while divesting nearly US$9 billion in annual revenue to focus the portfolio on IBM’s high value, integrated offerings.

Ginni Rometty also established IBM as the industry’s leading voice in technology ethics and data stewardship, working relentlessly to usher new technologies safely into society, and enabling people of diverse backgrounds and education levels to participate in the digital future. She has been committed to building talent and skills around the world. She created thousands of New Collar jobs and championed the reinvention of education around the world, including the explosive growth of the six-year Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools, or P-TECHs, which are helping prepare the workforce of the future, serving hundreds of thousands of students in 200 schools and 24 countries, the statement added.

“Ginni has provided outstanding leadership for IBM, substantially transforming the company and ushering in a new cloud and cognitive era,” said Michael Eskew, Lead Director of the IBM Board of Directors.

“She has taken bold strategic actions to reposition IBM for the future, shedding businesses and growing new units organically and through acquisition, all while achieving record diversity and employee engagement and setting the industry standard for responsible technology ethics and data stewardship.

“With the strong foundation now established by Ginni for IBM’s future, the Board is confident that Arvind is the right CEO to lead IBM. The Board ran a world-class succession process and found in Arvind a leader with the business acumen, operational skills, and technology vision needed to guide IBM in this fast-moving industry.”

Ginni Rometty’s reign as IBM CEO saw her named in Bloomberg‘s 50 Most Influential People in the World, Fortune‘s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, in Time‘s 20 Most Important People in Tech and in Forbes‘ America’s Top 50 Women In Tech. She will continue as Executive Chairman of the Board and serve through the end of the year, when she will retire.

IBM also said IBM Senior Vice President and CEO of Red Hat, James Whitehurst, will become its president.

Shares of IBM rose nearly 4% in extended trading. They have lost about a quarter of their value since Rometty took over as CEO in January 2012, Reuters reported.

Last week, IBM reported a rise in quarterly revenue, its first in six quarters, benefiting from the high-margin cloud computing business.