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Tricky transitions in tech leadership

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MessagePosté le: Jeu 20 Jan - 09:41 (2011)    Sujet du message: Tricky transitions in tech leadership Répondre en citant

Tricky transitions in tech leadership

For every George Seifert there's a Sammy Hagar: making the change from an iconic leader to even a well-groomed successor can
be very tricky.
The tech industry doesn't have a whole lot in common with the San Francisco 49ers or Van Halen, both of which were forced to
integrate new leaders into their organizations following the departure of dynamic leaders (Bill Walsh and David Lee Roth) who
put their respective groups on the map. But the tech industry is relatively young and hasn't often been forced to confront
the tricky question of how to replace an iconic founder.
Obviously, the topic has surfaced again with the news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will be taking his third medical leave in
seven years, having already endured surgery for pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant. Apple has had a long time to think
about this particular issue, and while Jobs may once again return to the helm, the company says it has a succession plan in
But it seemed worthwhile to look at how other tech companies have navigated such transitions, as history usually has a few
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lessons to pass along.
Former Intel CEO Andy Grove was part of an orderly transition of power at Intel throughout the decades.
INTEL: One of the oldest companies in Silicon Valley, Intel has pulled off this trick with aplomb over the years as it
transitioned between three giants of American business. Co-founders Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore installed Noyce as Intel's
first CEO, but Noyce gave way to Moore in 1975. Moore formally turned the reins over to Andy Grove in 1987, and Grove turned
Intel into a tech industry powerhouse with the rise of the PC.
Craig Barrett and Paul Otellini have since succeeded Grove, and those transitions have gone relatively smoothly, although one
could argue whether Intel is about to miss the boat on mobile computing. One aspect that helps is that CEO retirement is
mandatory at Intel: once you're 65, you're done. But Intel has also been successful about maintaining the culture laid down
by its founders by grooming executives for years before they reach the upper ranks.
HEWLETT-PACKARD:The oldest tech company in Silicon Valley has also had one of the more tumultuous progression of CEOs in the
last 10 years after decades of stability. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were the Steve Jobs of their time: dynamic founders
who literally put their names on an industry and inspired two generations of technology executives.
Succeeding CEOs John Young and Lew Platt largely adhered to the HP Way, but once Carly Fiorina took over, HP became a very
different place. It's arguably in the best financial shape of its life as one of the largest companies in tech, but morale
suffered greatly in the Fiorina and Mark Hurd years, and with yet another new CEO in place following Hurd's scandalous
departure, it's anyone's guess which direction the company will now take.
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APPLE: Don't forget that Apple has actually had to deal with this before, when it first ousted Jobs in 1985 over his
disagreements with then-CEO John Sculley about the direction of the company. The outcome of that move is well known: Apple
foundered for nearly a decade, losing its identity as a computing innovator and barely afloat by the time Jobs returned in
All Jobs has managed to do in the years since his return is create the second-most valuable company in America, changing the
tech landscape several times with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Now with firm control of the company that once kicked him out
the door, he's likely to make sure such a mistake does not happen again. However, the details of Apple's succession plan
remain a closely held secret.

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