Bloody Friday at IBM?

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders about the timing of announcing a large-scale shift in IBM executive staff ... on a Friday going into a United States holiday weekend. That's the kind of press release that tries very hard to say "nothing to see here," and especially one with the anodyne title of "IBM Leadership Changes."

But of course there is something to see here. Cutting through nonsense like "our hybrid cloud and AI strategy is strongly resonating" (remember, things break if they resonate too much), the biggest thing to see is IBM President Jim Whitehurst stepping down. Whitehurst was, of course, the former CEO of Red Hat prior to its merger with Big Blue, and he lasted just over a year as IBM President (but over twelve with Red Hat). He will now be working as a "Senior Advisor" to IBM CEO and chairman Arvind Krishna, which is a nice way of saying a paid sinecure until he finds another gig, and it's unclear if he will get any further payments on his US$6 million retention bonus. This is what it looks like when someone is pushed out, presumably over fax given the current IBM E-mail migration mess.

Whitehurst wasn't the only executive blood spilled: the senior VP of global markets is also out (not to be confused with Global Technology Services), now similarly moved to an executive sinecure for "special projects," and the former senior VP of IBM systems and hardware has either been laterally moved or outright demoted to senior VP of "cloud and cognitive software." Various other new names are coming on board, too. It really reads like Krishna is cleaning house.

Is this reshuffle part of the bootup of the cloud-focused IBM "NewCo", now called the vaguely unpronounceable Kyndryl? Technically NewCo-Kyndryl doesn't exist until the end of this year, and none of the officers Kyndryl announced yesterday include the names in IBM's announcement today. But it would be surprising for any of the cloud operations to remain at IBM "OldCo" which is supposed to have the legacy software and hardware operations ... unless the reasoning for the split was just a load of hooey and it was never the intention for either half of the company to retain exclusive control over its respective market interests. That probably bodes more ill for Kyndling, er, Kyndryl than it does for its parent corporation. Either way, it certainly looks like Red Hat proved the old joke is true: anything plus IBM ends up equalling IBM.





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