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Q&A: Post-Microsoft, Quantum's Belluzzo free to tout Linux

By Lucas Mearian and Don Tennant
December 11, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Rick Belluzzo, former president and chief operating officer of Microsoft Corp., took over as CEO of ailing Milpitas, Calif.-based storage vendor Quantum Corp. in September (see story). Belluzzo spoke with Computerworld today about his first three months in a job where "Linux" isn't a dirty word.

What was morale like when you showed up at Quantum, given the concurrent layoff of a third of the company's workforce? (see story) People were kind of tired and a bit stunned. The company's had an unusual background, but it's always been viewed as a place that was good to people. Morale in our industry is quite low. I'm not sure we're any worse off than others -- maybe we're better off. But what was most important was to deal with any confusion, any malaise of energy.
An unusual background in what way? We were a hard-disk company, that was our culture and our background, and we sold what was the largest part of our business [to Maxtor Corp. last year] and invested in what are slower-growth businesses: the tape business, and trying to transition from that to something that's higher-growth [tape automation and data protection appliances]. Those are transitions that are really hard for employees.

Quantum Corp. CEO Rick Belluzzo
Quantum Corp. CEO Rick Belluzzo
We said we were going to break even this quarter and be profitable next quarter, and there's been a huge amount of energy to get there.
Where is that energy being directed now? Going forward, we see ourselves focused on data protection, which is a variety of businesses that are about the way customers back up, restore, archive and deal with their basic critical management assets, their information. We think there's a lot of opportunity there; there's a lot of change under way. There's more of a mission-critical view toward data protection. These things are increasingly important, given some of the events that we've seen in the world over the last year.
It's an area where IT people are the most frustrated. It's the most labor-intensive, the most error-prone part of their IT operations. And increasingly, it's a big part of people's budgets. Storage has certainly grown on the radar screen, but even data protection now is viewed as something people need to think about, moving forward.
Is continued growth through acquisition a strategy of yours? Not necessarily. I would rather think that the way we consolidate here is through great execution. We continue to gain position; we had lost position, and now last quarter and this quarter we're gaining some share back.
To whom had you primarily lost position? HP

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