Palmisano Takes the Reins at Big Blue

IBM Corp. said today Sam Palmisano would step up as CEOof the company March 1, succeeding Lou Gerstner. Palmisano is currentlypresident and COO of Big Blue.

When Palmisano took on the role of president and COO inSeptember 2000, most observers speculated he was being groomed as Gerstner’ssuccessor. Presumably, that was the case.

Palmisan joined IBM as a sales representative in 1973.He led a number of units at IBM, including IBM Global Services, where he grewrevenues by nearly 30 percent. An IBM statement also credits Palmisano withIBM’s newfound Linux focus, and the eServer product line.

“Sam’s unique mix of strategic vision, passion and discipline,combined with his intimate understanding of IBM, make him the right person tobecome IBM’s next CEO,” Gerstner said in a statement.

Gerstner will remain as Chairman of IBM’s board throughthe end of this year.

Coming from RJR Nabisco, where he served as chairmanand CEO, Gerstner began as IBM’s CEO in April 1993. He led the strugglingcompany to focus on returning to an innovative role in the IT market. Beforehis tenure, IBM was still dealing with issues resulting from an anti-trustconsent decree, which led the company to become bureaucratic and legalistic.

IBM also announced vice chairman John M. Thompson wouldstep down as IBM’s vice chairman on September 1. IBM credits Thompson with BigBlue’s software group’s success, including its position in the middlewaremarket. In addition, he led the acquisitions of Lotus Development Corp. andTivoli Systems, Inc. – Chris McConnell