IBM CEO to Step Down January 1

IBM announced Tuesday that Sam Palmisano will step down at the end of the year and will be replaced by Ginni Rometty, a longtime executive with the company. Palmisano enjoyed tremendous success at IBM’s helm since he took over from Lou Gerstner in 2002, transforming the iconic company from a systems and services firm into a supercomputing and analytics powerhouse.

Since Palmisano took over, IBM shares have gained more than 73 percent in value, and the company’s revenue has more than quadrupled. He will maintain his position as chairman of IBM’s board when Rometty takes over January 1st. Palmisano spoke fondly of his replacement, calling her a “superb operational executive.”

Rometty, who currently serves as IBM’s senior vice president for sales, marketing and strategy, has been with the company for 30 years. She has been credited with getting IBM involved in cloud computing and analytics, the company’s biggest revenue sources, and was integral in prepping the supercomputer Watson for commercial use after its famous appearance on Jeopardy.

On a side note, Rometty’s appointment will represent a major milestone for women, as Rometty and Meg Whitman will be running the nation’s two largest technology firms in terms of annual sales. Whitman took over last month as chief executive as Hewlett-Packard, which had annual sales of $126 billion last year, while IBM had just over $100 billion in sales.