In case you missed it, VMware founder Diane Greene is out of a job. Or at least she was after the EMC-owned virtualization company announced her departure Monday. GigaOm blogger Om Malik predicts other startups will be calling her soon if they haven't already done so. The move proved to be quite a surprise in the industry, and it set off a swarm of speculation regarding the reasons behind the abrupt management change. As Malik put it, "No CEO and founder just up and quits the company."
OStatic writer Sam Dean says Greene and VMware were feeling the pressure of open source competitors in the virtualization space (e.g., Xen, newcomer Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems, which is offering its xVM hypervisor-management tool combination.
IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle has a different take. The biggest hint comes in the employment history of Greene's replacement, he says. Before Paul Maritz launched Pi Corp, he was a Microsoft exec and known to be one of the company's more strategic thinkers, Enderle says. And what better way for VMware to ward off Microsoft's advances in the virtualization space than to have someone who's been there come in and lead the way?
It makes sense, of course, but the change may have been prompted not by the growing open source field nor by Microsoft's emerging threat, but by a combination of the two -- the growth of competition overall in the virtualization arena. Then, of course, VMware is a newly public company, and a update to the GigaOM piece cited above suggests that Greene and her EMC bosses may have had different opinions of her ability to lead the company into this new phase.
Regardless of EMC's motivation for the change, shareholders certainly weren't happy. VMware's market valuation reportedly dropped by 25 percent following the announcement of Greene's departure.