Several big exits are afoot in the technology sector, with Salesforce, Apple and Microsoft potentially welcoming the next generation of technology executives.
Silicon Valley’s top technology leaders occupy an unusual place in the public consciousness, more akin to that of celebrities than corporate executives. Their high profiles give them a much bigger platform for making an impact on society and influencing people in matters far beyond tech gear and software. This makes their comings and goings especially noteworthy, and right now, the rate of executive succession in the technology sector is high.
The leadership changes started in December, when Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin stepped down, naming Google CEO Sundar Pichai as CEO of the firm’s parent company, Alphabet. Page and Brin had served as CEO and President, respectively, and “will continue their involvement as co-founders, shareholders and members of Alphabet’s board of directors,” the company said.
On January 30, IBM announced that CEO Ginni Rometty will retire after eight years at the helm. Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President of Cloud and Cognitive Software, will take over in April. “Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty. The new CEO will be tasked with completing the nearly 100-year-old firm’s pivot from conventional computing to AI and the cloud.
In the wake of its ill-fated IPO attempt last year, co-working firm WeWork is revamping its C-Suite, starting at the top. In February Sandeep Mathrani, a seasoned real estate executive, was appointed CEO. Former Ernst & Young executive Shyam Gidumal has joined as Chief Operating Officer. They replace Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, who had been serving as co-CEOs since the departure of disgraced CEO and co-founder Adam Neumann in September.
There are more changes amongst Silicon Valley technology executives on the horizon. Marc Benioff, founder and Co-CEO of Salesforce, is expected to step down this year. Bret Taylor, who became President and Chief Operations Officer in December, is the unofficial heir apparent. In February Salesforce promoted Justin Maguire to the new position of Chief Design Officer.
Meanwhile at Uber, there are rumblings among antsy investors and executives as to whether CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will succeed in making the ride-hailing firm profitable. The former Expedia CEO has been in the job for less than three years. According to The Economist, there is even speculation about household names like Tim Cook, who has run Apple for nearly a decade, and Satya Nadella, who has headed Microsoft for six years.
With so much executive succession in progress, the world could soon see what the next generation of big technology leaders will look like, and where they will take the mighty U.S. technology sector. For one thing, all of the new and incoming CEOs are male. Rometty’s departure will leave only two prominent female leaders: Lisa Su, CEO of chip-design firm AMD, and Oracle CEO Safra Catz.
Should Salesforce’s Benioff step down, only three of America’s 10 biggest tech firms, Amazon, Dell and Facebook, will be run by their founders. Bezos, Dell and Zuckerberg could evolve in a direction similar to the incoming crop of technology leaders, who seem to be more reserved and diplomatic by comparison. This type of leadership profile is more suitable in a time of clashes with politicians and the demands of ‘woke’ consumers and employees.