Lance Crosby, the founder and CEO of one of IBM’s major cloud businesses, SoftLayer, has resigned from IBM as part of an internal reorganization.
IBM has confirmed his departure to us after a story was first reported by eWeek’s Darryl Taft.
When IBM bought SoftLayer in 2013 for a reported $US2 billion, it reportedly outbid several rivals to get the company including EMC.
Crosby, 44, who ran Dallas-based SoftLayer for eight years as a privately held company, stayed on for about 19 months after IBM bought SoftLayer.
Earlier this month, IBM shuffled other top cloud executives around. Erich Clementi is no longer running IBM’s services unit, ultimately responsible for the cloud business, a move announced in November. Martin Jetter is taking his place. Clementi is the 30-year IBM veteran CEO Ginni Rometty appointed to a newly formed cloud business in 2013 after IBM bought SoftLayer. He’s now a senior vice president of sales for Europe.
Rometty appointed Robert LeBlanc, a 33-year Big Blue veteran, to run a newly formed IBM Cloud unit.
Sources told Taft:
SoftLayer COO Francisco Romero announced the news internally on January 23. Sources close to the situation said Crosby decided now was a good time to step away, as IBM has reorganized with a newly- formed IBM Cloud group headed by Big Blue veteran Robert LeBlanc. Crosby was set to transition to a new role as head of innovation for IBM Cloud when he decided to leave.
In 2005, Crosby and 9 other of ex-employees from their former employer, web hosting provider The Planet, launched SoftLayer in Crosby’s apartment, Crosby told Business Insider.
SoftLayer grew really fast and eventually, it acquired The Planet and a number of other regional web hosting companies. It grew to about 21,000 customers with 13 data centres in the U.S., Europe and Asia, when IBM bought it, and was thought to be the largest private web hosting company at that time.
“If you would have told me in 2005 when I created this company in my living room, that the oldest, largest American tech company would buy my company, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Crosby told Business Insider.
He celebrated the acquisition by buying a Rolls-Royce, he told us.
But it’s been nose-to-the-grindstone for him ever since. IBM has since invested billions in its cloud business, building new data centres worldwide and launching new higher-margin cloud offerings, including Bluemix, which lets developers write and host apps, and cloud offerings based on Watson, IBM’s super-smart computer that understands human language.
Internally, employees are being told that Crosby left to spend more time with his family, Taft reported.
But leaders of acquired companies, especially ones they have built from the ground up, rarely stay on long term. They often leave at the 18 to 24-month mark when the lock-up expires on their acquisition money.
We also keep hearing about a bigger shake-up in the works at IBM, a huge reorganization affecting most of the company, in which Rometty will get rid of the current software and hardware business units and create new ones based on up-and-coming areas like big data, cloud, and security.
IBM confirmed Crosby’s departure with this statement:
We wish Lance Crosby the best as he takes a well deserved break before pursuing new endeavours. Lance has left his mark on IBM. SoftLayer has become an important part of IBM’s cloud portfolio, and has played a big role in our success.
And, via IBM, Crosby sent this statement:
I am very proud of the business we built and the team who continue to evolve SoftLayer at IBM. Now that the business is successfully integrated into IBM, I am ready to take some time off before I pursue my next challenge.