IBM President Jim Whitehurst is stepping down after three years at the technology company. The shares fell the most in five months.
The departure marks one of the first major corporate reshuffles under Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna, who took the steer last year and has moved quickly to reshape IBM and return it to growth. Whitehurst, 53, is the former CEO of Red Hat Inc., which IBM acquired in 2018 in a $33 billion deal. As CEO, Krishna has focused on fast-growing technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud-computing services to revive decades of stagnation.
Whitehurst’s departure is one of several management moves IBM announced on Friday. Whitehurst “decided to step down,” IBM said, and he will continue working as a senior adviser. IBM didn’t announce a replacement. IBM shares tumbled 4.8% to $139.83 on the news.
Whitehurst was appointed president last April, the first time in decades that IBM separated the roles of CEO and president. His experience in cloud and cognitive software was viewed as a complement to Krishna, a longtime IBM executive. He played a critical role in Krishna’s pivot to a hybrid-cloud strategy which allows customers to store data in private servers and on multiple public clouds. Even with IBM’s struggle to achieve revenue growth, Red Hat’s performance has remained strong, posting a 17% gain in sales in the first quarter.
Whitehurst’s departure came as a surprise for many analysts who saw it as a negative.
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