Tatarinov Steps Down as Citrix CEO

Kirill Tatarinov is stepping down from his position as CEO of Citrix, 18 months after taking the reins at the virtualization and networking giant.

Tatarinov announced his exit in a Tweet on Monday, adding that he was "[p]roud of what we achieved & confident in [Citrix's] future. Amazing turnaround. Onwards!" He didn't immediately release further details on the reasons for his resignation.

A Citrix press release called the move a "mutual separation decision between the Citrix board" and Tatarinov. At the same time, Citrix named CFO/COO David J. Henshall as Tatarinov's successor.

The only other mention of Tatarinov in the release was this brief statement by Robert Calderoni, the board's executive director: "On behalf of the entire Citrix board, I want to thank Kirill for his leadership. The progress we made under his leadership has positioned Citrix well for the next phase of its corporate transformation."

Tatarinov was a former 13-year veteran of Microsoft, which he left in 2015 as part of an internal reorganization. His positions at Microsoft included executive vice president of the Business Solutions Division, which he helped transition to the cloud. Prior to Microsoft, Tatarinov served as CTO at BMC.

Tatarinov arrived at Citrix at a difficult time, and he leaves at an equally difficult time. When he took over in January 2016, activist investor Elliott Management Corp., which has a seat on the board, was calling for big changes at the company. They included a renewed focus on its core products in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) space like XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler.

The other half of that strategy was jettisoning what Elliott saw as nonessentials like the GoTo line of virtual conferencing applications, including GoToAssist,  GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, Grasshopper and OpenVoice.

During his short stint as Citrix CEO, Tatarinov also oversaw the acquisition of app virtualization company Unidesk, and strengthened ties with Microsoft. Despite those achievements, however, revenues have remained stagnant, and media reports have said the company is on the market and actively looking for a buyer. Citrix's current market cap is $12 billion, and its shares started falling immediately following the announcement.

New Citrix CEO Henshall had been CFO/COO since 2003, so he has a long tenure with the company. The Citrix release pointed to that longevity as a big plus, and implied that Henshall is more than a temporary or interim replacement:

"David is a proven leader who knows our company inside and out, and the board has the utmost confidence in him," said Robert Calderoni, executive chairman of the Citrix board. "Moving forward, the board believes that accelerating our cloud transformation will position the company for even greater success in the years ahead, driving greater value for our shareholders. We now have the right team in place to execute on that vision."

Replacing Henshall as CFO in a temporary capacity is Mark M. Coyle, senior vice president of finance. Citrix said it's retained an executive search firm to fill the slot permanently.

The CEO instability is in marked contrast to Citrix's early days, when founder Mark Templeton served in that role for the company's first 14 years.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.