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Tom Georgens, NetApp's New CEO

Posted by hitz in Dave's Blog on Aug 19, 2009 12:15:59 PM

Today DanWarmenhoven, our previous CEO, announcedthat Tom Georgens is our new CEO. Dan will continue as Chairman of the Board,and he will also have a new role, reporting to Tom, focusing on relationshipswith major partners. His title is Executive Chairman since he's an executive ofthe company as well as a board member. 


Dan has had anastounding run. When he joined NetApp in 1994, we had forty-five employees andless than $10 million a year in revenue. Fifteen years later, we haveeight-thousand employees and $3.4 billion in revenue. For all that we’veachieved, though, Dan told me that the accomplishment that meant the most tohim is being selected as the #1 Best Company To Work For by Fortune Magazine. He has always believedthat a healthy culture is just as important as healthy financials.


If Dan is so great,why do we need a new CEO? Dan has had a long-term personal goal of retiring byage sixty – about a year from now. In fact, his original goal was to retire byfifty, but running NetApp was so much fun that he pushed his goal back by ten years.The general timing came from Dan's retirement goal, but this particular quarterfelt right because the economy seems to be leveling out. Things certainlyaren't back to normal, but the crazy freefall appears to be over and a collapseof the banking system is no longer imminent. It’s best not to change CEOs whena crisis is in full swing.


It’s hard to imagine – after fifteen years of working for the same person – that as oftoday, I have a new boss. Fortunately, I’ve had plenty of time to get used tothe idea. The board didn’t take their final vote until just this Monday, butwe’ve been planning this transition for quite a while. When we hired Tom fouryears ago to run Product Operations – engineering, manufacturing, and productmanagement – we knew that he was a potential successor to Dan. There was noguarantee, but it was something we discussed in our interviews with Tom, andpart of what attracted him to join us was the opportunity to become CEO. I’vegotten to know Tom pretty well over the years. I like how he thinks, butperhaps more important, I like how well he fits our culture. He is a great choicefor this role.


To people who knowhow to read tea leaves, it became clear that Tom was the heirapparent when we promoted him to President and Chief Operating Officer (COO)and Dan became Chairman of the Board as well as CEO. Not only did most of thecompany report to Tom at that point, but Dan also asked him to run our planningprocess to develop annual goals and budgets. That combination of moves is apretty strong signal of what's coming next.


For NetApp this isobviously a major transition, but in fact, the entire IT industry is in aperiod of transition. Trends like industry consolidation, servervirtualization, and cloud computing are shaking up the IT landscape, andeveryone needs to respond. With so much change all around, it feels somehowappropriate to have a new CEO. I've loved working with Dan – I have so muchrespect for him and I've learned so much from him – but it's also exciting tohave a new leader. Here's to a new era at NetApp!


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