The turnaround at International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) led by “Ginni” Rometty, who took the job at the start of 2012, has faltered, flailed and failed. Earnings have dropped for 21 consecutive quarters. IBM’s share price has plunged. At some point soon, the IBM board will need to oust her, particularly if quarterly results continue to drop this year.
A few of the most likely candidates to take her place:
Scott Guthrie, the executive vice president of Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Cloud and Enterprise Group. He leads Microsoft’s effort in cloud computing, which the company says is at the core of its growth and success. IBM says its future is in the cloud. Guthrie is one of the industry’s leading players.
Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), has run the world’s most widely used cloud computing operation since founder Jeff Bezos made it an independent operation. In the first six months of the year, AWS had revenue of $7.7 billion, up from $5.5 billion in the same period a year ago. Operating income for the same period was $1.8 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 2016. It was Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) most profitable division in the first half of this year.
Mark Hurd is the Co-CEO of enterprise software giant Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL), another company with a large presence in cloud computing. Hurd also has a long track record of dealing with large companies around the world. His primary role at Oracle is sales and marketing. He was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, before it was split into two pieces, from 2005 to 2010.
Alan Mulally was Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) highly successful CEO from 2006 to 2014. He oversaw the auto giant, the only one of the Big Three not to go bankrupt, from 2006 to 2014. He also engineered a new line of Ford cars and trucks that accelerated Ford’s turnaround after the Great Recession. He is on the short list for many large company CEO replacements. IBM has gone outside the company to find an executive to turn it around before. Louis Gerstner Jr. ran IBM from 1993 to 2002 and repaired it after a period of trouble under CEOs who were long-time employees of the company. He is also a member of Alphabet’s board.
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), is on every list of large company turnaround CEO candidates, the most recent of which was Uber. Sandberg has said over and over again she does not want to leave Facebook. However, the chance to lead one of the most storied companies in tech history might be enough incentive. She knows she will never become Facebook’s CEO.