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Mark Templeton To Step Down as Citrix CEO

His seat on the board of directors will be given to an activist investor.

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton has announced his retirement from the company he's led since 2001. It was one of several announcements that promise to shake up Citrix, which appears to be on the cusp of a new era.

Templeton first joined Citrix 20 years ago as vice president of marketing. In 1998 he was elevated to president, and was handed the reigns three years later. Under his stewardship, profits grew enormously, but in the last few years Citrix has begun to struggle badly.

Elliot Management Gets On Board
Because of those problems, the company has agreed to give activist investor Elliott Management, which holds 7.5 percent of Citrix's common stock, a seat on its board. The seat will be filled by Jesse Cohen, who will replace Asiff Hirji. Citrix also said the company's board has formed an operations committee to work closely with the company's management team to find ways to improve margins, profits and its capital structure.

The board has also agreed to Elliott's demands that it consider the sale or spinoff of the Citrix "Go To" business, which includes Go To Meeting, Go to My PC and Go to Webinar, among other related product lines. Citrix said it will conduct a review of strategic alternatives for that business.

Elliott last month sent a letter to Templeton and Citrix chairman Thomas Bogan, indicating it wants to see the company improve its operations and spin off some assets, arguing the Citrix is significantly undervalued, suggesting its stock could be worth up to $100 per share by the end of next year. The stock closed at $61.47 per share on Thursday, though rose on the news and slightly better than a better than expected second quarter report with $797 million in revenue, up 2 percent year-over-year, and $103 million in earnings.

In addition to the new board director Cohen, the operations committee will include Citrix director Robert Calderoni, who was also named executive chairman of the board. Bogan was also named to the committee and he'll become lead independent director of the Citrix board.

'Fresh Perspectives'
"We believe the addition of new and fresh perspectives to our board will ensure Citrix continues to lead in application networking and virtualization markets," Bogan said in a statement.  Added Elliott's Cohen: "We are confident that the initiatives announced today and the addition of new directors to the company's board will allow Citrix to build upon its position as an innovative industry leader, and to drive significant shareholder value."

Citrix, best known these days for its XenDesktop and XenApp desktop virtualization platform, is also betting big on its new Cloud Workspace platform. The company demonstrated Cloud Workspace for first time at its Synergy conference in Orlando, back in May. Citrix Workspace Cloud is the company's next-generation digital workspace for Windows-based PCs, Macs, iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks new Linux-based systems and even embedded devices that enable Internet of Things-type environments. It's based on a cloud delivery architecture that provides orchestration across servers and nodes.

Second Retirement
This isn't the first time Templeton has announced his retirement. In February 2014 he said he would retire later that year, but in June 2014 he reversed himself, and said he'd be staying on. He said in the press release at the time that "While I had planned to retire within the year following my leave of absence, my personal circumstances have changed, and I am more determined than ever to lead Citrix through its next wave of transformation." It appears now that the transformation will happen without him, after all. 

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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