Citrix hires Kirill Tatarinov as their CEO. What do we know about this guy?

Last week Citrix announced they hired Kirill Tatarinov to be the new permanent CEO to replace Mark Templeton who was forced into retirement last year by Elliott.

Last week Citrix announced they hired Kirill Tatarinov to be the new permanent CEO to replace Mark Templeton who was forced into retirement last year by Elliott. Your first thought was probably like mine, which was, "Who's that?"

I've never met (or even heard of) Kirill before last week. So I did some digging, and here's what I found. (You can start with his LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.)

Originally from Russia, Kirill was most recently at Microsoft (from 2002-2015) where he spent the past seven years leading their Business Solutions division. (That's their Microsoft Dynamics product which is ERP and CRM software.) The division grew from $1B to $2B during his tenure, so even though most of us in our space don't think of Microsoft as a CRM company, $2B a year is obviously significant and gives him the experience running a business the size of Citrix.

Before he ran Dynamics, Kirill spent five years running Microsoft's Management & Solutions division (which owned SCCM), and he was one of the people to push for Microsoft to acquire Softricity in 2006.

He was cut from Microsoft this past summer in a top-level management shake up by Nadella that made a lot of news. Unfortunately when Kirill was let go, it was with a group of 4 senior execs which also included Steven Elop, Eric Rudder, and a guy who was a campaign advisor for the Clintons, so every article about that shakeup didn't mention anything about him at all since (compared to the others) he was not newsworthy.

I reached out to all the shared contacts I had on LinkedIn with Kirill to ask about him, and everyone who responded had positive things to say. As one person wrote to me:

Kirill is a very driven leader who does not suffer fools well at all. Like many Russians, he sets high standards in work ethic and expects results. I was very impressed with him during Quarterly Business Reviews, where each team within the Security & Tools division would present their product & GTM plans and Kirill would actively provide direct (often times very blunt) feedback. These sessions, though painful, were phenomenal in vetting out processes and helping to surface any potential problems a priori to hitting the market.

Since it's 2016 and Kirill has a Twitter account, I figured I could get a sense of his personally by going through his tweet history (including looking at who he started following when). He's only (only?) tweeted a few hundred times, so I was able to go through his entire history in an hour or so.

Many of Kirill's tweets are about the changing role of the CIO and the evolving role of IT. He also tweets a fair amount on the impact of mobility on the modern enterprise, including:

Great advice for our CIO friends: Embrace Consumerization of IT and Stop Saying No via @CIOonline, Nov 5, 2012

Why @josheac thinks the real mobile revolution isn't about mobility. On @Forbes., Mar 8, 2013

Excellent examples of CIOs as enablers not gatekeepers. @dgiambruno via @gigaom #CIO #CFO, Aug 10, 2013

He started following Sanjay Poonen in May 2014 and AirWatch in Aug 2014. He also follows Thomas Friedman and Seth Godin which I'll take as a good sign! 

If you'd like to see Kirill in action, here's a video of the keynote from Microsoft Convergence 2015 where Kirill talked for 45 minutes about the convergence of technology and the enterprise. (Since that conference is about how businesses engage with their customers, it's mostly about that angle of technology, but a majority of what he talked about could apply to a Citrix Synergy keynote too.)

All-in-all, it's great that Citrix has a permanent CEO now. That was the remaining piece of their re-focusing strategy that was missing (and what lots of people were talking about at Summit a few weeks ago). Kirill's first day was Monday, and it will be a tough road as he deals with turning the momentum around, fixing lots of broken things, and cutting costs to keep Elliott happy. I'll be looking forward to Synergy in May to see what his visions and plans are for Citrix after his first 90 days on the job.

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