Year in review: Comings and goings

This year the IT industry saw a handful of big name departures.

None more high-profile, of course, than the man himself. Bill Gates ended his long goodbye to Microsoft Corp. at the Consumer Electronics Show in January to the accompaniment of a typically self-deprecating video depicting his last day at work, with cameos from Barrack Obama, Hilary Clinton, U2’s Bono and more – all turning him down for jobs.

Nor was Gates the last departure from Microsoft Corp. Kevin Johnson, president of Redmond’s platforms and services division, left in July after failing to close a proposed $47-billion deal to buy search giant Yahoo. He crossed over to the networking side, joining Juniper Networks Inc. as CEO.

The fallout from the failed Microhoo deal probably cost head yahoo Jerry Yang his post as CEO. Yang stepped down in November after months of catcalls from Yahoo investors led by billionaire Carl Icahn. A co-founder of the company, Yang stays on the board while the company looks to replace him as CEO.

Not so lucky a co-founder was Diane Greene, who helped create VMware Corp. With share price sliding and Microsoft entering the virtualization fray with its Hyper-V hypervisor, the company’s majority shareholder, EMC Corp., brought in ex-Microsoft executive Paul Maritz in July to run the company through what promises to be a nasty battle for market share. Greene’s husband, another co-founder of VMware, Mendel Rosenblum, followed her out the door shortly thereafter.


John Thompson, CEO of Symantec Corp., announced in the fall that he’d be stepping down in March 2009. The security software company will appoint Enrique Salem as his successor.

Two Cisco Systems Inc. senior vice-presidents turned up in new posts this year. Charles Giancarlo took over as CEO of Avaya Inc. after Lou D’Ambrosio resigned for health reasons, while Jayshree Ullal left for the CEO’s position at switchmaker Arista Networks.

Closer to home, wireless veteran George Cope took over from Michael Sabia at the helm of BCE Inc., as Ma Bell faced a wireless spectrum auction (in which it won spectrum) and an impending privatization deal (which fell through in December).

Dave Dobbin, one-time president of Toronto Hydro Telecom, left after new owners Cogeco took over. He’s now president of Data and Audio Visual Wireless Enterprises Inc., better known, coincidentally, as DAVE Wireless, sports and restaurant mogul John Bitove’s new entry into the Canadian mobile market.

Nick Tidd, former head of 3Com Canada, is now Canadian general manager for D-Link.

And in a rather radical change in career direction, former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord became the head of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

— With files from Greg Meckbach

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