Gary Cohn, Former Trump Adviser, Joins IBM -- 2nd Update
By Matt Grossman
International Business Machines Corp. appointed Gary D. Cohn, a
former Goldman Sachs executive and economic adviser to President
Trump, as its vice chairman and member of its executive leadership
team as the tech company tries to revive its fortunes.
Mr. Cohn, who brings a vast Rolodex of corporate and government
contacts, will work on business development, public advocacy,
client services and client-relationship management, IBM said.
Mr. Cohn is joining an iconic American tech company that is
undergoing a once-in-a-generation overhaul after years of
struggling for growth. IBM has reported declining revenue in 30
quarters over the past 10 years, and its stock price has lagged
rivals, even though sales remain big, at more than $70 billion a
IBM appointed Arvind Krishna its CEO last year, announced
layoffs and said it plans to split the company, carving out a large
chunk of its IT-services operations that will leave the company far
smaller and more focused on high-growth cloud computing
Mr. Krishna said Mr. Cohn's business-transformation skills would
help IBM as it aims to accelerate its shift to cloud and
Founded in 1911, IBM made its name building computers and later
providing technology services to other companies. But it was slow
to adapt as corporations in recent years shifted from storing data
on big servers they owned to using the cloud. Amazon.com Inc. and
Microsoft Corp. embraced the cloud and turned it into a huge
business that helped propel their growth to valuations of more than
$1 trillion, or 10 times IBM's market valuation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud
computing as companies rushed to adapt to telecommuting
arrangements for their workforces, and as more people have embraced
online shopping and become massive consumers of digital
But the pandemic has also hit some areas of IT spending where
IBM has historically been strong. In the past two quarters, IBMs
cloud-computing revenue grew at a rapid year-over-year clip even as
the company's overall sales declined.
The pandemic, Mr. Krishna said in May, "will accelerate what may
have been a five-year journey" for the industry's
Mr. Cohn served as director of the National Economic Council
from Mr. Trump's inauguration until April 2018. He was president
and chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. from 2006
He is also co-chairman of Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp. , a
blank-check company that launched an initial public offering in
September. Blank-check companies, which enjoyed a banner year in
2020, have no business operations but raise funds with the goal of
merging with a private company to make the target company publicly
"My commitment to Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp. is unwavering,"
Mr. Cohn said in a Twitter message Tuesday morning.
In March 2018, Mr. Cohn said he would resign from his White
House job shortly after Mr. Trump announced steel and aluminum
tariffs that Mr. Cohn had opposed. Mr. Cohn had also criticized the
president's response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., in the
summer of 2017. Later that year, he played a key role in overseeing
tax policy changes that Mr. Trump championed.
A spokeswoman for IBM said Mr. Cohn wasn't available for an
Mr. Cohn said on Twitter that it was an exciting time to start
working with Mr. Krishna, who succeeded Ginni Rometty after her
eight years in the top job. She remained IBM's chairman until the
end of last year. Mr. Krishna became chairman Jan. 1.
Analysts have said Ms. Rometty was slow to transform IBM, even
if she more recently embraced cloud computing. Under Ms. Rometty,
IBM made its biggest acquisition yet, agreeing in 2019 to buy Red
Hat, an open-source software company, in a bid to accelerate
Mr. Krishna, in May, laid out a series of new cloud-computing
efforts as his first major initiatives as the company's CEO.
"Growth is what the market looks at as the proxy for
sustainability," he said at the WSJ Tech Live conference in
Write to Matt Grossman at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 05, 2021 14:30 ET (19:30 GMT)
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