By firing VMware chief Diane Greene, EMC's top dog Joe Tucci has sent a message to investors that his personal likes and dislikes come before their broader interests. That's not exactly what you want to see from an executive who has already done so very little for investors over the past five years.
We've written more than any other publication about the tension that existed between Tucci and Greene. Such bad blood seemed inevitable once EMC decided to offer part of VMware up in an initial public offering. You've got the stodgy parent company trudging along with a crepe-flat share price, while the young upstart soars into the stratosphere.
Since it still held more than 85 per cent of VMware, EMC benefited from its virtualization arm's gains. Its share price finally started moving up after years of languishing. Thing is, it was Greene's team and not Tucci's that was to thank for the surge.
EMC came to look like a hindrance. It was the boring disk seller trying to hold onto to a piece of the future with all its might.
Tucci must have hated being put in that position. He'd driven EMC to consistent double-digit growth, but no one cared. And then here comes this hippie wind-surfer from California who receives all of the accolades and pats on the back for her business acumen.
People often underestimate Greene. This is understandable to a degree. She's rather short. She's not a bombastic type in public. She comes off as much more of an engineer than a ruthless capitalist. She's a nerd who happened to end up running a company.
Those inside of VMware know a much different Greene. She's a hard-driving perfectionist who loves nothing more than to get her way. Employees have talked to us about going into meetings with Greene and crawling into their foxholes, hoping to avoid being struck by criticism or worse, a tirade.
We suspect that Tucci became less enamored with Greene's style as VMware's fortunes rose. He would have very little leverage over the firebrand in Palo Alto. She was responsible for making him look good. She wanted too much control of this VMware gem. She caused too many headaches. People kept thinking maybe she should have the EMC CEO post. Ultimately, she had to go.