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Belluzzo takes Quantum leap

The data storage company names former Microsoft executive Rick Belluzzo to be CEO as it seeks a broader role in data protection and network storage solutions.

Data storage company Quantum on Thursday named former Microsoft executive Rick Belluzzo as its chief executive officer, effective Sept. 3.

Belluzzo is a 25-year tech industry veteran with stints as an executive vice president at Hewlett-Packard and CEO at Silicon Graphics. On May 1, Belluzzo stepped down as chief operating officer at Microsoft, where he managed many of the company's consumer products and services after his arrival in September 1999.

In moving to Quantum, Belluzzo is downsizing a bit. According to regulatory filings, Quantum had 3,100 regular employees, compared with Microsoft's 47,600.

At Quantum, Belluzzo will take over for CEO Michael Brown, who will become chairman of the company.

In a statement, Brown described Quantum as a company in "transition" and looking for a broader role in data protection and network storage solutions.

"We have focused not only on expanding our portfolio of storage systems and services, but also on further strengthening the expertise of our management team in these areas," said Brown.

Belluzzo is expected to use his relationships and knowledge of the tech sector to help the Milpitas, Calif., company increase its business. For its fiscal year 2002, which ended March 31, Quantum reported net income of $42.5 million on revenue of $1.1 billion. That's down from net income of $160.7 million on revenue of $1.4 billion in the preceding year.

Belluzzo said he is "excited" about joining Quantum and looks forward to the "opportunities in data protection and network storage."

At Microsoft, Belluzzo was crowded out as the No. 3 executive behind Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer. His tenure was marked by the lackluster results of many of Microsoft's consumer projects, such as the plan to convince customers to pay for software on a subscription basis.

At HP, he was largely credited with building the company's profitable printer business. He was also an heir apparent to the CEO at HP before leaving to take the reins at Silicon Graphics.

In an April interview with CNET News.com, Belluzzo said he wasn't sure about his next step after his stint at Microsoft, but made it clear he wanted to be in control.

"I want to run a company," he said. "I am very passionate about it."