Sun loses top exec to Adobe

Sun Microsystems Inc. will lose its top software executive to Adobe Systems Inc., the company confirmed Thursday.

John Loiacono, who succeeded Jonathan Schwartz as executive vice president of software at Sun when Schwartz was promoted to president and chief operating officer (COO) in April 2004, will take on the role of senior vice president of Creatives Group at Adobe, according to a Sun spokeswoman. His last day at Sun will be March 24.

In his role at San Jose, California-based Adobe, Loiacono will be responsible for the development, delivery and marketing of Adobe’s entire creative software portfolio, including popular design and authoring tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Flash Professional and Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe said in a press statement. He will report to Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s president and chief operating officer.

Sun’s software products have never matched the commercial success of its hardware, even though the Java technology much of its software is based on has been a huge licensing success for the company and is widely used by third parties. Sun made the move to open-source much of its software — including its Solaris operating system and infrastructure software based on Java — during Loiacono’s stint as head of the software division.

Sun, in Santa Clara, California, said it is considering both internal and external candidates to fill Loiacono’s position. Until then, Schwartz will steer Sun’s software division, a role observers feel he never really abandoned even after taking on his current president and COO roles.

During his time leading Sun’s software team, Loiacono largely continued the software strategy Schwartz put in place during his tenure as the software leader. He often deferred to Schwartz’s vision for the software division during press interviews and appearances, and seemed to be more a mouthpiece for Schwartz rather than a strategist in his own right.

Loiacono, who has a communications degree from Fresno State University, ascended the ranks at Sun after joining in 1987 to take a marketing position. Before leading the software division, he served as senior vice president of Sun’s operating platforms group, the division that oversaw Solaris.

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