Compaq Chairman Steps Down, CEO Will Step In

After 18 years at the helm, Compaq Computer Chairman Ben Rosen, 67, Thursday passed the baton to Compaq President and Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Capellas, 46. Capellas’ appointment was unanimously approved by Compaq’s board.

“Michael’s appointment is a natural and appropriate step for Compaq at this moment in our history,” Rosen said. “After almost two decades as chairman of the board, I have complete confidence in Michael to lead Compaq during the next great phase of the company’s growth and global expansion. Michael and his management team have charted the right course for the company and I believe he has clearly demonstrated the leadership Compaq needs and deserves in a chairman.”

Rosen, who helped found the company in 1982 and was appointed chairman in 1983, was recognized by the board for his years of service with the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus. In addition to his service as chairman, he was a member of the Office of the Chief Executive of Compaq from April 1999 to July 1999, during which time he also served as acting CEO. He wears a number of other hats as well: he is a director of Capstone Turbine Corp., Ask Jeeves Inc. and idealab! Inc.; vice chairman of the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology; and board member of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia Business School and the New York Philharmonic.

“I am deeply grateful to Ben Rosen for his wisdom and support during the past year and a half,” Capellas said. “It is a very special honor to follow in his footsteps. Ben has been one of the principal architects of Compaq’s success since the company was founded in 1982. He set the standard of excellence and visionary leadership by which all of us at Compaq measure ourselves.

Capellas’ appointment comes two days after he unveiled Compaq’s new vision at the company’s annual two-day meeting of industry analysts in San Francisco. Capellas, who was named president and CEO of Compaq on July 22, 1999, explained that the company is moving to take advantage of a new “Pervasive Information Era” driven by customer demand for massive amounts of information “anytime, anywhere,” through a variety of wireless and broadband devices.

“Compaq’s strategy is not just about devices or building beige boxes,” Capellas said at the meeting. “It is about developing solutions to utilize a variety of devices and wireless and broadband communications technologies to seamlessly and securely link with data-rich servers and storage.”

He added, “Clearly, Compaq has led the way in making the Internet easily accessible through commercial and consumer devices. Whether it is our more traditional PC offerings, or our iPAQ family that includes the iPAQ Pocket PC, net appliances and the iPAQ Blackberry, we are striving to get people connected whenever they want, wherever they are.”

As part of the company’s push to redefine its brand image, it has launched a new advertising campaign complete with print and television ads.

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