International Business Machines’ big news in 2020 was the promotion of 30-year company executive Arvind Krishna to the CEO job, succeeding Ginni Rometty. IBM stock has been in a long swoon since 2013, even as the overall market has rocketed; the company needs a revised strategy, and Krishna has wasted little time pursuing one. In October 2020, he announced plans to spin off the business that manages IT infrastructure for other companies—IBM stock rose on the news—and he has been acquiring smaller businesses to build up IBM’s strength in cloud software for business automation. His strategic direction is no surprise; he had been following it even before he was CEO, championing IBM’s acquisition of the Red Hat enterprise software firm in 2019. Judging his success so far is difficult because the pandemic muddied comparisons with past performance.
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