Lance Crosby, the founder of SoftLayer Technologies Inc., has left the company less than two years after it was acquired to become the linchpin of IBM’s cloud strategy.
International Business Machines Corp. bought SoftLayer, which provides a network of data centers to help deliver technology via the Web, in 2013 for $2 billion. Crosby was then tasked with helping adapt the vast portfolio of existing software and services to be available on the cloud.
Crosby’s departure was finalized last week after he lost out on the job as head of IBM’s new cloud division to Senior Vice President Robert LeBlanc, said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the information was private. IBM confirmed his exit in a statement, saying Crosby had “left his mark on IBM.” EWeek earlier reported the news.
“I am very proud of the business we built and the team who continue to evolve SoftLayer at IBM,” Crosby said in a statement sent by IBM. “Now that the business is successfully integrated into IBM, I am ready to take some time off before I pursue my next challenge.”
Mike Azzi, a spokesman for IBM, declined to comment beyond an official statement from the Armonk, New York-based company.
“We wish Lance Crosby the best as he takes a well deserved break before pursuing new endeavors,” IBM said in the statement.
The departure comes at a tumultuous time for IBM. Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty has tried to shift the 103-year-old company to the era of cloud computing, a transition that’s taken a toll on both sales and profit. Meanwhile, investors have grown more impatient, sending the stock falling the most in the Dow Jones Industrial Average for two straight years.
IBM’s sales from the cloud came in at $7 billion for 2014, with cloud offerings delivered as-a-service at an annual run rate of $3.5 billion. That’s still a fraction of IBM’s $93 billion in revenue last year.
Cloud computing gives clients more flexibility in ordering software and can limit their need for IBM’s servers and mainframes. Rometty ditched a long-standing profit goal in October, and earnings fell last year for the first time in more than a decade.
SoftLayer, a 10-year-old company with the DNA of an agile startup, was seen as the centerpiece of IBM’s transformation strategy. SoftLayer has already helped IBM add customers such as China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. and partners like SAP, which will use IBM’s data centers to deliver database and platform offerings to customers via the Web.
Crosby and Rometty made a deal when he picked IBM off a final short list of six potential acquirers, he said in an interview last year. SoftLayer was to stay intact as its own business within the tech giant for two years while integrating IBM’s technology and being given funds and people to expand the business.
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