Jim Whitehurst, who joined IBM as part of the Red Hat acquisition, revealed today that he will be stepping down as company president barely 14 months after taking the job.
IBM didn’t elaborate on why he was stepping down, but he did acknowledge his role in bringing the $34 billion Red Hat merger to fruition in 2018 and in bringing the two organizations together after it concluded. “Jim has been critical not just in articulating IBM’s approach, but also in ensuring that IBM and Red Hat work effectively together and that our technology platforms and innovations give additional value to our clients,” according to the business.
He will continue to serve as Krishna’s senior adviser, but it’s unclear why he’s departing after such a short time in the position and what he expects to do next. Frequently, after a deal of this nature closes, important executives agree on how long they will stay. It’s possible that the moment has over and Whitehurst wishes to move on, but some considered him as Krishna’s successor apparent, and the move is surprising when viewed in that light.
“I was astonished since I had assumed Jim would be the future IBM CEO. I particularly enjoyed the pairing of a long-serving IBMer with an outsider “According to Patrick Moorhead, founder and chief analyst at Moor Insight & Strategies.
Regardless, it leaves a significant gap in Krishna’s leadership team as he seeks to turn the company into a hybrid cloud-first organization. Whitehurst’s depth of industry experience and credibility with the open source community from his tenure at Red Hat put him in a position to assist push that transformation. He is not readily replaceable, and the announcement made no mention of who would take his position.
When IBM paid $34 billion for Red Hat in 2018, it triggered a series of adjustments at both organizations. Arvind Krishna took over as CEO of IBM when Ginni Rometty stepped down. Simultaneously, Jim Whitehurst, the former CEO of Red Hat, moved to IBM as president, and long-time employee Paul Cormier took his place.
At the same time, the business announced a number of other changes, including the departure of long-term IBM executive Bridget van Kralingen from her position as senior vice president of global markets. Van Kraligen will be replaced by Rob Thomas, who was previously senior vice president of IBM’s cloud and data platform.