How Pat Gelsinger saved VMware

As a boy growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Patrick Gelsinger expected he’d become a farmer like his father. An early aptitude for technology set his life on a far different path.

Gelsinger spent 30 years at Intel as a technician and chip architect, working on microprocessors and game-changing innovations like USB and WiFi. He rose to become the company’s first chief technology officer.

Now he’s CEO of VMware, a $41 billion Dell subsidiary that provides cloud computing and platform virtualization software. When Gelsinger took the reins in 2012, VMware was struggling because cloud storage threatened VMware’s core product of data center virtualization. As companies moved their applications and data into the cloud instead of data centers, VMware needed to find a solution.

Gelsinger created a winning strategy: help companies run their data center infrastructure together with the data and applications they may have put in the cloud. Partnerships with cloud providers like IBM and Google Cloud have allowed VMware to position itself as a connective system linking all the various cloud platforms together.

It culminated in Dell’s acquisition of both VMware and EMC, a data storage giant that owned the majority of VMware’s stock. As it did under EMC, VMware continues to operate separately with its own stock listing. While things have been steady for him and his company in 2017, Gelsinger said last year was by far the toughest for him professionally and personally.

As the world watched him navigate the Dell deal, Gelsinger grappled with the loss of several key executives, the failure of some key partnerships and a stock price that was cut in half. At home, his son battled cancer, his father-in-law passed away, and Gelsinger broke a foot, relocated two kids and sold three homes.

Still, at the end of such a tough period, he said, the lesson he learned and wants to put out into the world is simple: “Leaders lead their organization and family through tough times — that’s what we signed up to do,” he said.

Patrick Gelsinger

CEO, VMware, Inc.

HQ: Palo Alto, CA

What it does: Provides cloud computing infrastructure.

Latest year of revenue: Over $7 Billion

Recent business highlight: Doubled the revenue and employee base of company, created the second act of VMware, led it through transition of EMC to Dell, and saw stock and market cap at all-time highs.

Philanthropy: A man of humble beginnings and faith, Gelsinger is known to be extremely giving. He’s guided by a deep devotion to Christianity and passion for always doing the right thing. Gelsinger has publicly vowed to give an increasing percentage of his gross income away to charity — a number that was up to 50 percent last year. Causes that he’s particularly involved in include:

  • William Jessup University (formerly San Jose Christian College)
  • Stadia, a church planting organization that launched over 100 new churches in 2017
  • Mission of Hope International
  • Transforming the Bay with Christ
  • Family Life, A Campus Crusade for Christ

Management style: Gelsinger considers himself a “blue collar” CEO. “I get my hands dirty, stay close to the details, engage in vigorous conversation at all levels of the company, debate with the engineers” he said. He also seeks to empower his employees, while also holding them accountable. “I love my people and do everything I can to make this the best period or job of their careers,” he said.

Source: How Pat Gelsinger saved VMware