IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is stepping down after an eight-year tenure in which the tech giant struggled to grow at the same rate as its competitors.
The announcement came on Thursday. Rometty, 62, will step down on April 6. She will stay on board at IBM through the end of the year, which will cap a near four-decade career with IBM overall.
Her replacement will be Arvind Krishna, head of IBM’s cloud and cognitive software division. The new company president will be Jim Whitehurst, who was chief executive for Red Hat, the open-source software company which IBM bought for $33 billion last year.
Rometty has been known as one of the most high-profile female tech CEOs in a field still primarily dominated by men.
She took on the CEO role in 2012 at a difficult time for the company. The company’s sales fell each year for 22 consecutive quarters under her watch, and although they rose for a three-quarter period, they began to fall again after that.
Rometty is a Chicago native, and started rising through IBM’s ranks in the 1990s when she worked in the sales division. From there, she made a mark on the company when she led the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC as a consulting arm in 2002. IBM bought the company for $3.5 billion.
Following the announcement of her departure, IBM shares rose 3 percent.
The appointment of Krishna highlights how much reliance IBM is placing on emergent cloud technology. The company has previously lagged in that field as compared to rivals Amazon and Microsoft, despite Rometty’s predictions that IBM would be a leader in the field. The acquisition of Red Hat, the largest in IBM’s 108-year history, was meant to be a boost for that direction.
While IBM built its success on providing technology to other companies, it was slow to adapt to cloud computing, or the shift away from storing data on big servers a company owned and more into renting the storage space from service providers.
IBM is currently the fifth-largest public cloud infrastructure provider, with less than 2 percent market share, according to statistics provided by research firm Gartner Inc.