Citrix suddenly changes CEO: Tatarinov out, COO David Henshall in

'Mutual separation decision' after just 18 months in the job


Citrix has announced a bolt-from-the-blue change of CEO.

The company says its board and immediate-past-CEO Kirill Tatarinov reached a “mutual separation decision” that will see him depart the company. David J. Henshall, previously the company's chief financial officer and chief operations officer, now glories in the titles of CEO, president and member of the company's board.

Citrix's canned statement says the change was made ahead of plans to introduce “a series of strategic initiatives intended to drive operating margin expansion, increase capital return and facilitate further investment in accelerating Citrix’s transformation to a cloud-based subscription business and in high-growth areas, such as data security and analytics services.”

That “transformation” was flagged in the company's Q1 2017 results announcement, so we cannot image Tatarinov was unaware of it or was not involved in its preparation.

Citix's statement offers nothing more than the board's belief that “We now have the right team in place to execute on that vision.”

Which begs the question about why Tatarinov was not felt to be “right”.

Tatarinov took the job in January 2016 and, to The Register's mind, did pretty well. On his watch the company and pocketed shed its GoTo product lines and pocketed a cool US$2bn, improved profitability and forged alliances that saw Cisco and Microsoft send customers its way in preference to their own wares.

On the downside, growth was slow on his watch and while Citrix's core products did well, plans for growth were not obvious. The company also faced rumours the company was for sale, which Tatarinov did not definitively deny.

Perhaps that's where the difference of opinion lay: the announcement of Tatarinov makes much of plans to return capital to investors. One way to do that is with a sale. Another is with a new strategy. The Register wonders if the former CEO didn't think investors would be best-served by Citrix trying to innovate its way to a more pleasing balance sheet, but the board felt that was the best approach. Such a difference of opinion would be unsustainable.

Whatever the reasons for the change, Citrix says it will reveal its new plans on its next earnings call in early August. El Reg will tune in to bear witnesses at the new birth of Citrix, Mark 2, in the hope you enjoy its new direction. ®

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