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Sueltz leaves Sun for Salesforce.com

Patricia C. Sueltz this week resigned her post as EVP of the Sun Services Group at Sun Microsystems to join CRM software maker Salesforce.com as president of marketing, technology and systems.

Sueltz, 51, joined Sun in 1999 with great fanfare from IBM Corp., where observers at the time called her a rising star. Sun heavily recruited Sueltz from her position as general manager of Java software at IBM to take over the fledgling Sun Software unit. Sueltz, who had been with IBM for nearly two decades, was moved to the Sun Services Group in 2002.

Under her leadership, Sun Services posted revenue of $3.6 billion during fiscal year 2003 (which ended in June), up 7% from the previous year. During that same period, Sun as a whole posted an 8.5% revenue decline.

"Pat has played an important role in transforming Sun Services' model to deliver system solutions and complete life-cycle services to our customers," Sun Chairman and 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's responsibilities at Sun will fall temporarily to EVP and chief customer advocate Marissa Peterson. Peterson will take on the new role in addition to her current duties, officials said. Sueltz's successor had not yet been announced at press time.

Salesforce.com is credited with being the first hosted CRM vendor. Hosted CRM delivers access to enterprise software functionality through a Web browser. Salesforce.com offers its customer service and sales software on a subscription basis, and now claims 9,000 customers.

Sueltz has said that she was not looking to leave Sun, but was initially approached by Salesforce.com through a headhunter. Her decision to depart reportedly came as a surprise to executives at that company. Salesforce.com is currently preparing for an initial public offering (IPO), and Sueltz said that she had to join the firm immediately to be listed on its S1 form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The San Francisco-based company's much anticipated IPO is expected to raise about $115 million.

Last week, Salesforce.com also announced separate partnerships with IBM and Sybase. Under the IBM agreement, Salesforce.com customers who run IBM's WebSphere application integration server will be able to use WebSphere Studio Application Developer to customize their hosted software and integrate it with other business applications. The Sybase deal involves further integration of Salesforce.com and Sybase technologies, including Sybase IQ and Sybase Replication Server. The company also announced what it called "the largest deployment of on demand CRM" with SunTrust Banks Inc., Atlanta. SunTrust is expected to roll out Salesforce.com's service to 2,000 users in its commercial business line.

Commenting on Sueltz's departure just after his keynote at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, Sun EVP of Software Jonathan Schwartz, who took over from Sueltz in 2002, said he was "sad to see Pat go." He added that any partner initiatives instituted at Sun Services under Sueltz would not be affected by her departure.

In 2000, Fortune magazine listed Sueltz (the name rhymes with "results," as she has been heard to explain) among the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. She also sits on the boards of Delphi Automotive Systems and pharmaceutical company Amgen.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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