Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good Management or Bad Management? EMC's Firing of VMware's CEO

Ashlee Vance has a great story in this morning's NY Times, dealing with Joe Tucci's firing of Diane Greene, the CEO of the virtualization pioneer VMware (publicly-traded, but majority-owned by EMC.)

Here's the opening:

    In the summer of 2007, Diane Greene was lauded as a business hero for leading VMware, a maker of business software, to the hottest stock debut since Google. But in the ensuing year, despite her popularity with employees and on Wall Street, her relationship with her directors, and especially VMware’s chairman, Joseph M. Tucci, grew increasingly chilly.

    On July 7, she found out just how cold it had become. After Ms. Greene made a special presentation to VMware’s board, Mr. Tucci, who heads VMware’s parent company, EMC, pulled her aside, according to people familiar with the events, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal company decisions.

    Inviting Mendel Rosenblum, Ms. Greene’s husband and the co-founder of VMware, into the room, Mr. Tucci told Ms. Greene she was fired, effective immediately. And he said the board wanted Mr. Rosenblum, VMware’s chief scientist, to take her seat on the board. Mr. Rosenblum declined the offer.

    When Ms. Greene’s firing was announced to investors the next morning, VMware’s shares plunged 24 percent, and the high-flying company was thrown into a tailspin from which it has yet to recover.

Check out this press release noting that VMware (before Greene's firing) had been named one of the Top 100 IT companies of 2008. EMC was also on the list, but much lower than VMware.

You could view this situation in one of three ways: either Greene was better-suited to leading an independent, fast-growth tech company, and wasn't working well with her corporate overlords...or EMC is not great at managing entrepreneurial folks who may sometimes have strategic disagreements (or personality clashes) with top leadership...or a little bit of both.

Either way, EMC (and Paul Maritz, the EMC exec who took over Greene's post) has a lot to do to prove that Greene's firing isn't a major setback for VMware. VMware's stock has been sagging since the firing, and its chief scientist, Mendel Rosenblum (yes, Greene's hubby), just quit to go back to academia. The head of product also left recently, too.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Did EMC Drop Out of the Bidding for EqualLogic?

Dell is paying $1.4 billion in cash for Nashua, NH-based EqualLogic. Company is run by Lotus alum Don Bulens, and backed by Charles River Ventures, Sigma Partners, Focus Ventures, and TD Capital. This is a big exit for all involved, since only about $52 million had been invested in EqualLogic. (Earlier this year, Bulens had touted the company as an IPO prospect.)

I had lunch today with a storage industry entrepreneur who suggested that EMC had likely been in the bidding, but dropped out before the price reached $1.4 billion. He also speculated that this could mean the end of EMC's partnership with Dell; Dell's reseller arrangement with EMC accounts for about 16 percent of EMC's storage revenue. The official word from EMC is that there will be no changes to the Dell partnerhship.

Goldman Sachs just downgraded EMC from a "Buy" to "Neutral."

EMC chief executive Joe Tucci gave this interview in October in which he vowed to catch up to the competition by early 2008. Which is coming soon.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

EMC to Analysts: Stop Bugging Us Already

EMC needed a play in Web-based back-up. If they didn't get into this business, geared to consumers and small companies, Wall Street analysts would never stop bugging them about why they didn't have a play.

So this week, EMC bought Berkeley Data Systems, the Utah company which runs the online back-up service Mozy. EMC didn't disclose the price, but TechCrunch says its sources peg the tag at $76 million.

What's interesting to me is that EMC didn't make a bigger deal of this acquisition: no quote from nominal EMC CEO Joe Tucci in the release...and they didn't seem to offer Tucci up to the Globe, which ran just a brief item or the Wall Street Journal. The NY Times hasn't covered the news at all, so far as I can tell.

Is that really the way to indicate that this is an important new direction for your company?

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