Palmisano takes the IBM hot seat

Let's go to work...

Let's go to work...

Sam Palmisano formally takes over the helm at IBM today as his predecessor Lou Gerstner steps down after nine years in the hot seat.

But instead of the sad, lacklustre business that greeted Gerstner, Palmisano takes over an IBM in rude health. Last year, the company reported profits of $7.7bn last year on $86bn worth of sales.

Gerstner was named CEO and chairman of a then ailing IBM on April Fool's Day 1993. The company itself was a pretty sad joke reporting $5bn losses the previous year as its inability to predict the technology trends started to have an affect.

IBM had been late with minicomputers, bungled the transition to client/server computing and watched helplessly as IP passed it by.

Gerstner took a dispirited, nearly defunct company, shook up the slow disorganised business and turned it into a multi-billion dollar business.

Palmisano is well placed to take up the reins after holding the majority of top positions during his 29 years at the company. He's an ardent supporter of Gertsner's 'customer not technology' focus and is firmly in the 'open standard' camp.

We'll have more reaction to the IBM succession later today.

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