Colligan Out as Palm CEO

Just days after launching the Palm Pre on Saturday, Palm has named Jon Rubinstein as its new chairman and CEO, replacing Ed Colligan in a move that continues efforts by the handset maker to try to capitalize on what it sees as a new era in its history.

The news isn’t too surprising. While Colligan appeared to be well respected in the industry, he’s still charged with being at the helm during Palm’s downward spiral during his 16 years of leadership.

Palm's Ed Colligan Palm's Jon Rubinstein
Ed Colligan (L) and Jon Rubinstein
Source: Palm

Two years ago, Elevation Partners, backed by venture capitalist Roger McNamee and U2’s Bono, bought a 25 percent controlling interest in Palm and brought in Rubinstein as the company’s executive chairman — a move aimed at turning the beleaguered handset maker around.

Palm also said in a statement that Rubinstein, a former senior executive at Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) “joined Palm … to help bring innovation back to the company.”

“I am very excited about taking on this expanded role at Palm. Ed and I have worked very hard together the past two years, and I’m grateful to him for everything he’s done to help set the company up for success,” Rubenstein said in a statement.

Palm’s new chief will be charged with nothing less than resurrecting Palm as a viable challenger in the fiercely competitive smartphone market while overseeing the roll out of a new ecosystem built around the Pre and webOS, the device’s operating system.

Saturday’s launch of the Pre marked a key juncture for Palm, with success of the device and its software seen as critical for the company’s continued survival.

“With Palm webOS, we have ten-plus years of innovation ahead of us, and the Palm Pre is already one of the year’s hottest new products,” Rubenstein said. “Due in no small part to Ed’s courageous leadership, we’re in great shape to get Palm back to continuous growth, and we plan to keep the trajectory going upward.”

Already, the news is receiving praise from industry observers, though he’s been less of a public figure at the company.

“The guy [Rubenstein] has proven he is a winner,” Ken Dulaney, analyst with Gartner, told “Though … while Ed was very outwardly focused, Jon is not. He doesn’t interact with the press and analysts as much.”

Once Rubinstein assumes his role as CEO tomorrow, Colligan will “take some time off and then join Elevation Partners,” according to the company.

“I’m very proud of what Palm has accomplished so far,” Colligan said in a statement. “We pioneered two major product categories and I believe we are on our way to defining the standard for the mobile Web.”

“I’m extremely proud of our team, and grateful to have played a role in turning Palm around. I know that Jon, the Board and the Palm executive team will do an incredible job driving Palm to new heights.”

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