Lance Crosby (right), founder and CEO of SoftLayer, who came to IBM when Big Blue acquired the company in 2013 and made it the center of IBM’s business cloud architecture, will leave IBM as early as Friday. The announcement comes just weeks after IBM reorganized its cloud businesses into a new business unit with 30-year IBM veteran Robert LeBlanc in charge. Whether Crosby’s decision was related to that decision is unclear.
Crosby founded SoftLayer in his living room in 2005 and ran it as a private company until he sold it to IBM for approximately $2 billion. Since then it has become the basis for the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) portion of IBM’s business cloud strategy and the platform on which it delivers its software as a service (SaaS) offerings from it and other companies. IBM is also exhorting its global network of distributors to use SoftLayer to set up their own cloud services.
IBM announced earlier this month that it realized $7 billion in revenues from the cloud business in 2014 and that it is growing at about 60 percent per year. Those revenues are believed to be divided about evenly between the IaaS and SaaS sides of the business, meaning that SoftLayer delivered about $3.5 billion in 2014. By comparison Amazon Web Services, the IaaS arm of Amazon.com, brought in an estimated $4.3 billion in 2014. IBM announced last year that it would invest $1.2 billion to expand the SoftLayer network to 27 data centers worldwide.
IBM issued a statement saying “We wish Lance Crosby the best as he takes a well-deserved break before pursuing new endeavors. Lance has left his mark on IBM. SoftLayer has become an important part of IBM’s cloud portfolio, and has played a big role in our success.”
Crosby also issued a statement through IBM, saying “I am very proud of the business we built and the team who continue to evolve SoftLayer at IBM. Now that the business is successfully integrated into IBM, I am ready to take some time off before I pursue my next challenge.”