New IBM CEO latest in changes at tech companies

Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Yahoo were prominent companies that witnessed CEO changes

IBM's announcement Tuesday that company veteran Virginia Rometty will take over on Jan. 1 as president and CEO from Sam Palmisano is the latest in high-profile changes at the top in key technology companies, including Apple, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard.

Tim Cook took over from Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple in August after Jobs' poor health did not permit his continuation in the position, raising questions whether he can provide the leadership and vision provided by Jobs to the company

Jobs, who moved to the position of chairman, died on Oct. 5. Cook was previously chief operating officer at Apple, and was recommended to be the next CEO by Jobs.

Palmisano has been CEO for nearly a decade and turned 60 this year, and was widely expected to hand over charge to a new CEO. He retains the role of chairman. The transition is expected to be smooth without major changes, as Rometty has a good understanding of IBM's software, services and hardware business, an analyst said.

While the transitions at IBM and Apple appear to have been relatively uncomplicated, and happened when the companies were doing well, there were changes of guard at Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard which were stormy, and followed uncertainties about the future of these companies, which still continue.

Hewlett-Packard CEO, Leo Apotheker was replaced in September by HP director and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, less than a year after he took the job, after the company missed its financial targets in three quarters. Apotheker's planned purchase of infrastructure software vendor Autonomy and talk of evaluating options for the PC division were also controversial. The spin off of the PC division is still under review, according to reports.

Carol Bartz was "fired over the phone" as CEO of Yahoo in September, after the lackluster performance of the company, including the failure of its 10-year search agreement with Microsoft to live up to expectations. Bartz is also said to have mishandled Alibaba Group's spin off of payment unit Alipay to a company controlled by Jack Ma, the CEO and founder of Alibaba. Yahoo owns about 43 percent of Alibaba.

Yahoo has yet to find a new CEO. The company's chief financial officer, Tim Morse is currently the interim CEO. Yahoo is now rumored to be the target of acquisition of a number of companies including Microsoft. Alibaba's Ma has said recently that his company is interested in acquiring Yahoo.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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