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Sun services chief to step down

Marissa Peterson, a 17-year Sun veteran, will work on a "proprietary" project, then exit the company, CNET has learned.

Marissa Peterson, a 17-year Sun Microsystems employee who just celebrated her first anniversary leading its services division, is stepping down and eventually leaving the server and software company altogether, CNET has learned.
Marissa Peterson

Peterson will work on a "proprietary" project for Sun, continuing to report to President Jonathan Schwartz, company spokeswoman Stephanie Von Allmen confirmed Friday. "At the conclusion of the project, Marissa will be leaving us," Schwartz said in a memo seen by CNET

Von Allmen declined to detail the project, but said that Peterson will stay at Sun through the end of 2005.

"She recently explained to me that she's ready for the next big challenge in her career outside of Sun, and she's confident she's making the right choice for herself and the company," Schwartz said in the memo. Peterson hasn't yet decided on her next career move, Von Allmen said.

Peterson left her mark on Sun's services group. "She led the organization to consistent overachievement against plan of revenue (and) contribution margin in the last three quarters, including hitting the first services billion-dollar quarter for Sun," Schwartz said in the memo.

But that progress hasn't rescued the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company overall in the wake of the dot-com crash and later economic slump. Sun has returned to profitability after more than three years of trying to regain its footing, but its stock price and revenue have remained largely flat. The company has yet to see many results from several ambitious new initiatives.

Among other executives who have left Sun in recent months are Shahin Khan, who left for Java acceleration start-up Azul Systems; Rob Gingell, who left for computing automation software company Cassatt; Marge Breya, who left for Java software maker BEA Systems; John Fanelli, who left for embedded software company Wind River Systems; and Peder Ulander, who left for embedded Linux company MontaVista Software.

Before joining Sun, Peterson worked at Booz Allen Hamilton and held marketing, financial and engineering positions at General Motors' Saturn division.

Schwartz won't replace Peterson. Instead, two executives who had been under Peterson will report directly to Schwartz: Don Grantham, senior vice president of global customer services, and Eugene McCabe, senior vice president of worldwide operations.