Taking the Reins

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Taking the Reins

Samuel Palmisano becomes IBM's CEO on March 1, 2002, taking the helm from turnaround specialist Lou Gerstner, who had held the position since 1993.

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July 30, 2002: IBM announces it will buy Pricewaterhouse Coopers Consulting for $3.5 billion, creating a new category in the consulting field. The transaction gives IBM an unmatched capability with business insights while complementing its already deep technology portfolio. The deal closes on Oct. 2, 2002. IBM creates a new global business unit called IBM Business Consulting Services.

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The PC Is Done

Dec. 7, 2004: IBM divests its Personal Computing Division, selling it to Lenovo for $1.75 billion. The deal was a signal that IBM saw that the PC era was over. IBM made the bold move to sell its PC business to Lenovo, signaling its approach to capture higher value markets with business and enterprise clients rather than consumers. The deal, which closed May 1, 2005, marked the end of an era for IBM, which created the first IBM PC in 1981.

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The Genographic Project

April 13, 2005: In a multi-year research initiative, IBM partners with National Geographic to analyze historical patterns in DNA to better understand human genetic roots. This data-intensive project helps people understand the evolution of mankind and our common origins.

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Globally Integrated Enterprise

May 15, 2006: Declaring the end of the multinational corporation, Palmisano announces IBM's Globally Integrated Enterprise. He decided that IBM had to be run differently if it was going to remain competitive and expand rapidly in high-growth markets that integrate processes beyond borders. Palmisano reorganized the company around the principle that IBM would perform work for clients and for its own business units where the jobs could best be done, essentially tapping the right talent and the right market segments at the right price.

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Corporate Service Corps

July 25, 2007: IBM announces the Corporate Service Corps program, essentially a corporate version of the Peace Corps. The leadership training program helps IBM employees enhance their skills and expertise to become global leaders and citizens. Since its launch in 2008, the Corporate Service Corps program has sent more than 1,200 IBM employees in more than 100 teams to more than 20 countries.

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Smarter Planet

Nov. 6, 2008: Palmisano launches IBM's Smarter Planet strategy. At a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, Palmisano outlined the strategy, which remains the guiding platform for the corporation. In discussing the Smarter Planet strategy, he said the world is becoming instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, and IBM is going to apply its business and technology to help companies and organizations become more successful and smarter.

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Research Labs

June 8, 2010: IBM opens its ninth global research lab, this one in Brazil. It was the first research lab in South America and the first new IBM Research Lab opening since 1998. The Brazil lab is focused on technology breakthroughs relating to natural resources and the environment. The Brazil facility joins other IBM Research Labs in California, Texas, China, New York, Israel, Switzerland, Japan and India.

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Feb. 14, 2011: IBM's "Watson" supercomputer triumphs on the "Jeopardy!" game show. Watson rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. On the television game show, the supercomputer beats the show's two most successful contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

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June 16, 2011: IBM turns 100. Palmisano helped usher in the next century of IBM with a look at how the company has made the world work better.

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Market Cap Tops Microsoft

Sept. 29, 2011: IBM surpasses Microsoft to become the second most valuable technology company (behind Apple) after its market value rises to $214 billion, besting Microsoft's $213.2 billion. It was the first time since 1996 that IBM exceeded Microsoft in market valuation based on closing stock prices.

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End of an Era

Oct. 25, 2011: IBM announces that Virginia M. Rometty will succeed Palmisano as CEO effective Jan. 1. Palmisano remains chairman of the board.

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