Enterprise

For VMware, replacing CEO Pat Gelsinger will be hard. Navigating the relationship with Dell will be harder.

Two early contenders for the role of CEO are operating chiefs Sanjay Poonen and Raghu Raghuram.

Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger

Pat Gelsinger is leaving VMware after eight years.

Photo: VMware

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger's jump to Intel comes at a particularly precarious time for the company as it navigates a potential spinoff of the business from majority owner Dell.

Chief Financial Officer Zane Rowe is taking over the reins of the virtualization software provider temporarily as the board looks for a permanent replacement, according to a company statement on Wednesday. Two early contenders for the role are operating chiefs Sanjay Poonen and Raghu Raghuram, according to Morningstar analyst Mark Cash.

Whoever becomes the replacement faces a difficult undertaking. VMware is a complex organization, a challenge that Gelsinger navigated well in his more than eight years with the company, but still poses a potential hurdle for an outside replacement. Most urgently, however, will be the Dell problem. The company has an 80% stake in VMware, but is looking to spin off the business as it struggles to bolster its own balance sheet, a move that could force VMware to pursue cost-cutting initiatives and find new areas of growth.

"We view the management transition as an additional but manageable hurdle," RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note to investors. VMware "will need a sizable debt raise and special dividend in order for Dell to complete a successful spin, and a new CEO will be an important part of such a move."

Any change in the ownership structure of VMware is unlikely to happen until September 2021 at the earliest, but it will still be imperative for a CEO to be named quickly to help with any transition. VMware has a special committee tasked specifically with negotiating with Dell.

"There's a lot of opportunity for someone to stamp their name on the company," Cash told Protocol.

The news comes after former Chief Operating Officer Rajiv Ramaswami left in December to lead rival Nutanix, a departure that clearly irked VMware. The company is suing Ramaswami for allegedly holding "secret meetings" with Nutanix while serving at VMware, a move that indicates just how fiercely the two firms compete.

Outside of Gelsinger and Ramaswami's departures, there were a few other high-level defections over the past year: Chief Customer Officer Scott Bajtos jumped to FinancialForce, general manager Ajay Singh left to be the chief product officer at Pure Storage, cloud services general manager Milin Desai departed to be CEO at Sentry, SVP Jim Delia left for ServiceNow, and senior director of global partner operations Jeanine Bierlein went to Zoom, among others.

"Leadership change is a natural part of every company's evolution," VMware said in a statement. "We have [a] strong executive bench across the company and are investing heavily in preparing our leaders to take on larger, higher impact roles as new opportunities arise. Interest from executive candidates in our company remains strong."

But Gelsinger leaving is, of course, the most significant, given the major impact he had on the company, taking it from a $4.6 billion midsize provider in 2012 to a $10 billion burgeoning power-player in the hybrid cloud industry. In that time, the stock price rose nearly 44%.

Gelsinger "profoundly pivoted the company over the last few years, turning VMware into a key component of cloud infrastructure while expanding into high-growth vectors and away from core virtualization solutions," Cash wrote in a note to investors.

Gelsinger also struck an important partnership with AWS in 2016 to allow VMware customers to run core products on its cloud. That, along with agreements with Microsoft and Google, will be paramount for any successor to continue. Gelsinger was also instrumental in pivoting the company's focus to Tanzu, a tool that effectively helps clients manage their applications across different cloud providers.

Gelsinger will remain on the board, but given the monumental task facing him at Intel, some industry insiders questioned his capacity to also help out his former employer. Investor hesitancy over any incoming new CEO was apparent, with the stock dropping as much as 7% in the hours following the news.

"It's a loss. No other way to say it. Pat is a key technical leader in the organization," IDC President Crawford Del Prete said. Still, the company "is in a strong position and is a key part of many customer's enterprise strategy."

Climate

The West’s drought could bring about a data center reckoning

When it comes to water use, data centers are the tech industry’s secret water hogs — and they could soon come under increased scrutiny.

Lake Mead, North America's largest artificial reservoir, has dropped to about 1,052 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since being filled in 1937.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The West is parched, and getting more so by the day. Lake Mead — the country’s largest reservoir — is nearing “dead pool” levels, meaning it may soon be too low to flow downstream. The entirety of the Four Corners plus California is mired in megadrought.

Amid this desiccation, hundreds of the country’s data centers use vast amounts of water to hum along. Dozens cluster around major metro centers, including those with mandatory or voluntary water restrictions in place to curtail residential and agricultural use.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Every day, millions of us press the “order” button on our favorite coffee store's mobile application: Our chosen brew will be on the counter when we arrive. It’s a personalized, seamless experience that we have all come to expect. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes. The mobile application is sourcing data from a database that stores information about each customer and what their favorite coffee drinks are. It is also leveraging event-streaming data in real time to ensure the ingredients for your personal coffee are in supply at your local store.

Applications like this power our daily lives, and if they can’t access massive amounts of data stored in a database as well as stream data “in motion” instantaneously, you — and millions of customers — won’t have these in-the-moment experiences.

Keep Reading Show less
Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has worked in the B2B technology industry for over 20 years. As a freelance writer she writes for top technology brands, including IBM, HPE, Adobe, AT&T, Verizon, Epson, Oracle, Intel and Square. She specializes in a wide range of technology, such as AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and CX. Jennifer also wrote a bestselling book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer to help other writers launch a high earning freelance business.
Workplace

Indeed is hiring 4,000 workers despite industry layoffs

Indeed’s new CPO, Priscilla Koranteng, spoke to Protocol about her first 100 days in the role and the changing nature of HR.

"[Y]ou are serving the people. And everything that's happening around us in the world is … impacting their professional lives."

Image: Protocol

Priscilla Koranteng's plans are ambitious. Koranteng, who was appointed chief people officer of Indeed in June, has already enhanced the company’s abortion travel policies and reinforced its goal to hire 4,000 people in 2022.

She’s joined the HR tech company in a time when many other tech companies are enacting layoffs and cutbacks, but said she sees this precarious time as an opportunity for growth companies to really get ahead. Koranteng, who comes from an HR and diversity VP role at Kellogg, is working on embedding her hybrid set of expertise in her new role at Indeed.

Keep Reading Show less
Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.

Climate

New Jersey could become an ocean energy hub

A first-in-the-nation bill would support wave and tidal energy as a way to meet the Garden State's climate goals.

Technological challenges mean wave and tidal power remain generally more expensive than their other renewable counterparts. But government support could help spur more innovation that brings down cost.

Photo: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Move over, solar and wind. There’s a new kid on the renewable energy block: waves and tides.

Harnessing the ocean’s power is still in its early stages, but the industry is poised for a big legislative boost, with the potential for real investment down the line.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Entertainment

Watch 'Stranger Things,' play Neon White and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Here are our picks for your long weekend.

Image: Annapurna Interactive; Wizard of the Coast; Netflix

Kick off your long weekend with an extra-long two-part “Stranger Things” finale; a deep dive into the deckbuilding games like Magic: The Gathering; and Neon White, which mashes up several genres, including a dating sim.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins