IBM’s CEO retires; new leadership raises hope about cloud services


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Farah Javed, Managing Editor

After working for IBM for 40 years and being Chairman, as well as president and chief executive officer for the last eight, Virginia Rometty is retiring. Arvind Krishna is slated to replace Rometty in April of this year.

When Rometty became CEO of IBM, she was one of the few women in executive positions in the technology industry.

She was tasked with bringing the company through a technological revolution.

Artificial intelligence and cloud computing were becoming integral for advancing technology. In the early 2010s, companies like Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. were dominating those fields.

IBM says that Rometty’s legacy is rooted mainly in her efforts to make the company adapt ethical practices.

She also introduced thousands of technological jobs called “New Collar,” stressing the requirement for skills over degrees, and supported partnering with high schools to introduce technology early on to students.

Though IBM also managed to acquire 65 companies under Rometty’s leadership, her effort were evaluated overall as a struggle that didn’t lead to much achievement, according to The New York Times. 

“Under Rometty, IBM sales fell 25%, and the stock lost 25% of its value,” according to Barron’s.

In fact, some believed she was too out of touch with cloud computing to have IBM expand in it, so a change in leadership was desperately needed.

This is further supported by the fact that IBM’s stocks increased by 4% immediately after Rometty announced her retirement on Jan. 30.

Now, Arvind Krishna, the former IBM senior vice president for cloud and cognitive software, is expected to usher in a new technological age for the company.

Primarily, his background as an engineer is seen as an advantage.

In 2019, Krishna arranged the deal with Red Hat, which was IBM’s biggest purchase in its 109-year history. Red Hat, a staple in the open-source economy for enterprises, was bought for $34 million and became a subsidiary of IBM.

IBM is not just changing its chief executive officer. In fact, the CEO of Red Hat, James Whitehurst, is taking the position as president of IBM.

Some perceive his new role as having been bought by selling his company. In an age where IBM’s relevance is questionable, Whitehurst is the perfect candidate for the job, according to Forbes. With this change in management, IBM hopes to evolve and be able to catch up with the industry giants.

This goal will prove to be difficult, as “Amazon’s blowout fourth-quarter results were powered by 34% growth at its Amazon Web Services cloud unit, which is now operating at an annual run rate of $40 billion,” according to Barron’s.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are household names that continue to prosper, whereas IBM is not so widely known anymore.

In fact, pages upon pages of articles exist questioning whether IBM is still relevant today since relatively few companies still  use    IBM software today.

Hence, Krishna and Whitehurst have the job of not just making the company technologically competitive, but rebranding it as well.

With the start of the new decade and planned reformation of IBM, the company will focus on diving into the artificial intelligence and cloud world in the hopes to once more become a significant player in the technological industry.

In a short amount time, it will be possible to observe the effects of the new leadership in the company.