On the Move: Jonathan Schwartz

Stepping into the CEO's shoes at global technology giant Sun Microsystems is the man behind the operations.

by World Business
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Jonathan Schwartz has been instrumental in streamlining Sun's operations and building a solidly competitive product line, comprising servers, software, services and data management. These include the Java platform, Solaris operating system, UltraSparc microprocessors, the fastest-growing x64 server line and the world's first internet computing utility, Sun Grid, which was launched earlier this year. Schwartz has also been a driving force behind the company's improving financial results, with an increase of revenue from $2.65 billion in the third quarter of 2004 to $3.18 billion in its most recent third quarter earnings announcement.

Schwartz is also credited with securing key acquisitions - Forte Software, Kealia (a start-up founded by original Sun founder Andy Bechtolsheim) SeeBeyond, German software company StarDivision and StorageTek - as well as major partner relationships including Microsoft, Fujitsu and AMD. He has five executive management positions at Sun under his belt, with responsibilities ranging from ventures fund and developer products to enterprise software. The 40-year-old revolutionised the company's software strategy with the introduction of the Java Enterprise System and launch of the Java Desktop System.

In 2004, he became president and COO, taking on operational functions such as product development, worldwide marketing, global sales and manufacturing. He has been behind many of Sun's open source and standard setting initiatives, from the open sourcing of flagship Solaris' operating system and UltraSparc microprocessors, to the Liberty Alliance, a cross-industry effort to drive royalty-free standards for secure network identity. And he has been an outspoken advocate of the network as a tool for economic, social and political progress.

His promotion to CEO at the end of April is undoubtedly a result of the key leadership role he has played in positioning Sun Microsystems globally (Sun can be found in 100 countries worldwide and its net revenue was more than $11 billion in 2005) and across industries to maximise the benefits of a networked marketplace. He has achieved this in the face of stiff opposition from competitors Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

Schwartz, who presides over 38,000 employees, regularly promulgates his view that the 'Information Age' has given way to the 'Participation Age' in which people create news, ideas and entertainment, as well as consuming them. He will continue to work closely with company co-founder Scott McNealy, who relinquishes the post after 20 years but remains chairman.



1987: Degree in economics and mathematics from Wesleyan University, Connecticut


1987: McKinsey & Co, New York

1989-1996: Co-founder and CEO, Lighthouse Design

1996: Lighthouse Design is acquired by Sun Microsystems; Schwartz becomes director of product marketing for JavaSoft

1997-2002: Vice-president, enterprise software; vice-president, developer products; vice-president, ventures fund; senior vice-president, corporate strategy and planning

2002: Executive vice-president, software

2004: President and COO

2006: CEO and president


When Kevin Rollins took over as CEO of Dell from founder Michael Dell, it seemed the crowning glory of an effortless rise to the top of the Dell ladder. Rollins started working with the company almost accidentally as a consultant for Bain & Co, and it wasn't long until Michael Dell himself asked him to join the company, which he finally did in 1996. "I did not go into consulting intending to leverage it into an operating job," Rollins told a group of Harvard students last March, "but I just had the opportunity to do so."

Michael Dell is now chairman and he and Rollins co-run the company. Rollins has been credited for taking Dell the extra mile and transforming it from niche leader to global leader. One of his first decisions in 1994 was to drop the retail dabbling and reorient the business on what it did best: direct selling. Rollins also forced the company to take a long hard look at itself and develop a culture that valued its people as much as its results. The result is a set of guiding principles entitled 'the soul of Dell'.



1984: Graduates with BA in humanities, BA in civil engineering and MBA from Brigham Young University, Utah


1984: Joins Bain & Co as strategist, becomes manager, partner and director

1993: Joins Dell as Bain & Co consultant

1996: Joins Dell full-time as president of Dell Americas

2001: President and COO

2004: Appointed CEO

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