Belluzzo Resurfaces at Quantum as CEO

Richard Belluzzo's affair with the software industry ended in May when he left Microsoft Corp. after less than three years with the company.

Richard Belluzzos affair with the software industry ended in May when he left Microsoft Corp. after less than three years with the company.

Last week, Belluzzo announced his return to the hardware arena as the new

CEO of storage heavyweight Quantum Corp. He will take over Sept. 3 for current CEO Michel Brown, who will remain as chairman of the Milpitas, Calif., company, which makes tape and NAS (network-attached storage) hardware.

In an interview last week, Belluzzo, who was

an executive at Hewlett-Packard Co. for 20 years before becoming CEO at Silicon Graphics Inc., said Quantum will take a more "back to basics" approach, with a focus on interoperability.

"We need to be focused on the right opportunities for intermediate and long-term growth," Belluzzo said. "There are lots of cumbersome operations around backup. It needs to be simpler. Im still digging in. We need to shore up and sustain our core businesses: tape, data protection and network storage."

Despite Quantums recent financial challenges—last month the company reported a net loss of $131 million for its first fiscal quarter of 2003, on revenues of $211 million—it has rolled out new products. The company recently released its first entry-level tape auto-loader, called the SuperLoader, and its first midrange NAS product, the Guardian 14000.

Belluzzo said his role is to "shore up and transition" the company and predicted Quantum will return to profitability by next March, the end of the companys fiscal year.

Chris Loehr, vice president and manager of technical services for Local Oklahoma Bank, said the switch of CEOs will have no impact on his buying decisions. The Oklahoma City bank uses Snap Servers, Quantums low-end NAS products, in branch locations for noncritical data. But with Belluzzos experience at larger companies, "it makes you wonder why and how" he joined Quantum, Loehr said.

Given his history in hardware, Belluzzo was seen as an odd fit when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer brought him in as the consumer group

vice president in 1999. He was promoted to president and chief operating officer in February 2001. But one year later, he announced his resignation as part of a reorganization that phased out those positions.

The Microsoft experience, however, wasnt without value, Belluzzo said. "Who knows, we may be partnering," he said of Quantum and Microsofts new storage division. "Our visions are by and large compatible." ´