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12 February 2014 Written by  Black Youth Project

Meet John W. Thompson: Microsoft’s First Black Chairman

Multi-billion dollar computer software firm Microsoft has appointed its first African-American chairman in the history of the brand.

John W. Thompson will replace the legendary Bill Gates as chairman. Thompson, a seasoned executive and former CEO of Symantec, will become just the second chairman in the company’s history.

From Mercury News:

"Thompson is a very well and deeply respected guy and his experience, plus his connections with the tech ecosystem in the valley and elsewhere, will be invaluable for Satya," said John Connors, Microsoft’s chief financial officer from 1999 to 2005, who now is a managing partner with Ignition Ventures.

While a CEO generally handles a corporation’s daily operation, a chairman, which is generally not a full-time job, has considerable responsibility because the board he or she heads oversees the top executives, including the CEO, and has ultimate responsibility for the company’s performance.

Thompson, 64, was born in Fort Dix, N.J. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in business from Florida A&M University, and his master’s in management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He is currently CEO of Virtual Instruments, and served as CEO of Symantec from 1999 to 2009.

He previously worked at IBM for 28 years, rising to become general manager of sales and support for the Americas.