February 25, 2004 5:55 PM PST

Sun's Sueltz shifts to Salesforce.com

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Patricia Sueltz, who led the services unit at Sun Microsystems to record revenue, is leaving the company this week for a post at Salesforce.com.

Beginning Thursday, Sueltz will become president of marketing, technology and systems at Salesforce.com, according to a statement from Sun on Wednesday. Salesforce delivers customer relationship management software over the Web.

Sun said Sueltz's responsibilities will go temporarily to Marissa Peterson, Sun's chief customer advocate and executive vice president. This will be in addition to Peterson's current duties.

Sueltz, 51, has held the position of executive vice president of Sun Services. Under her leadership, the services unit posted revenue of $3.6 billion in the year ended June 30, 2003, up 7 percent from the previous year. This growth occurred as overall revenue at the computer systems company fell 8.5 percent year-over-year to $11.4 billion.

In contrast to declining revenue at Sun, Salesforce has seen its revenue grow. The San Francisco-based company is also gearing up for an initial public offering.

Sueltz rejected the idea that she's leaving a struggling company for an up-and-comer. Instead, she said Salesforce embodies one of her long-held passions: network computing. "I don't view it as jumping ship," she said Wednesday. "I see it as going on to the next step."

Mark Stahlman, analyst at Caris & Co., suggested that Sueltz's departure does not threaten Sun's turnaround efforts, which focus to a large extent on new software and hardware offerings. He contrasted Sun's relatively small services business with the larger services operations at rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard. "They're a server vendor, not a services vendor," Stahlman said.

At Sun, Sueltz had been emphasizing a preventative approach to services as opposed to a traditional break-and-fix model, in which tech professionals come to a company's aid when a server or other device needs technical assistance.

"Pat has played an important role in transforming Sun Services' model to deliver system solutions and complete life cycle services to our customers," Sun CEO Scott McNealy said in a statement. "We wish Pat well in her new venture and look forward to continuing our relationship with her in her upcoming role as a partner and customer of Sun."

Sueltz took over the services unit in mid-2002. She joined Sun in 1999 as executive vice president and general manager of Sun's Software Systems Group. In 2000, she was ranked one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" by Fortune Magazine, according to Sun. Prior to Sun, she spent about two decades at IBM.

 

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