Controversial Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz has stepped down in a nonconventional way by using Twitter. He tweeted his resignation early Thursday, well within the 140-character limit.
"Today's my last day at Sun. I'll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more", Schwartz said via Twitter. Schwartz also tapped into social media on Jan. 28, when he signaled his impending departure from the company with a blog post that he called "likely my last blog at Sun."
Schwartz didn't offer any insights as to where he'll go from Sun. But in a blog post last week, he suggested people follow him via Twitter to find out. One thing is certain -- Schwartz is walking away with a healthy sum of cash, about $12 million as part of his severance package.
Why Schwartz Resigned
His departure was widely anticipated. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison reportedly doesn't like Schwartz, and that's one of two things that may have worked against him. Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, described Schwartz as a polarizing character within and outside Sun.
"Schwartz was one of those guys that, for good or ill, just didn't seem to illicit general responses in people. They either loved him or they hated him," King said. "There was actually something of a similarity between people's reaction to Schwartz and the people's reaction to Sun founder Scott McNealy."
As King sees it, McNealy is an executive who "shoots from the lip." Even though some disliked him, most considered him clever, King said, while Schwartz didn't enjoy that same level of lovability. In fact, Schwartz was considered something of a blowhard by many, King said, and that personality doesn't carry much value for Oracle.
The Twitter Finale
Schwartz also had Sun's woes on his back that led executives to seek an acquirer in the first place. When Schwartz accepted the CEO position in April 2006, he said it was an honor to take the reins and signaled opportunities ahead in the global market. But his leadership didn't produce major products that gained traction, King said.
"You could argue that the company came up with some interesting products and made some moves forward. You could probably also successfully argue that the decision to focus on software rather than Sun's traditional hardware was probably the right strategic move to make," King said. "It's just that there were other vendors out there who made the move at the same time as Sun, like IBM, and did it much better."
Schwartz will go down in history as the first major corporate executive to offer a haiku resignation on Twitter. Schwartz was certainly considered by many to be a quirky choice for CEO in the best of times, King quipped, and perhaps it's entirely appropriate that his exit from the company was every bit as quirky as his term as CEO.