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New Citrix CEO brings needed software background

The hiring of Kirill Tatarinov as Citrix CEO means the company intends to improve its core end-user computing offerings instead of selling itself off, according to observers.

The new Citrix CEO will have his hands full refocusing the company on its core products.

The company this week hired Kirill Tatarinov as president and CEO. He most recently spent 13 years at Microsoft -- the last eight as the head of its business solutions division -- before leaving as part of a restructuring in July.

Citrix had been on the hunt for a new CEO since Mark Templeton retired in October after 14 years at the helm. Interim CEO Robert Calderoni, a finance and accounting executive, will return to his position as executive chairman of Citrix's board.

The choice of Tatarinov, who had a product and software focus at Microsoft, signals that Citrix does not intend to sell itself off, but it is rather betting on its core product development, said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions, an IT consultancy in Kitchener, Ont.

"Replacing a CEO with someone who has product focus and who can enhance their competitiveness in the virtualization space is a good move for Citrix," he said.

Templeton's retirement came after activist investment firm Elliott Management put pressure on Citrix to scale back its noncore products. In response, the company spun off GoTo, its online meeting and collaboration software, and indicated it would discontinue or bundle other products.

'A company at a crossroads'

Citrix's recent updates to XenMobile, XenApp and XenDesktop show that the company has plans for future growth in the end-user computing market. This year will be big, because Citrix will still have to implement plenty of other changes, said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a cloud solution provider in Westborough, Mass.

[Kirill Tatarinov] has huge shoes to fill.
Eric Kleindirector at VDC Research

"Citrix is a company at a crossroads," he said. "I expect to see aggressive moves to modernize its solutions and services over the next year."

Despite Tatarinov's impressive background, he may have his work cut out for him in replacing one of the longest-tenured CEOs in the tech industry, said analyst Eric Klein, director at VDC Research in Natick, Mass.

"He has huge shoes to fill," Klein said. "Templeton was a visionary. In the industry's view, Templeton was one of those rock-star CEOs, so that's the hard part of coming into a role like this."

Tatarinov taking over

Before leading Microsoft's business solutions division, where he oversaw the company's Dynamics software line, Tatarinov spent five years running the System Center and Windows management division. Citrix's offer to Tatarinov included $24 million in stock, some of which is tied to his performance, plus a $1 million base salary and additional incentives that range from 125% to 200% of his base salary, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing from Citrix.  

Whatever other changes come for Citrix, its strong technology and customer base make for a positive outlook, said Steve Greenberg, CEO and principal consultant at Thin Client Computing, a virtualization services provider in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"The new leader just has to align the technology with the customer," Greenberg said.

Ramin Edmond is a news writer with TechTarget's End-User Computing Media Group. Contact him at redmond@techtarget.com.

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