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FOLLOWING a legend.

WHEN JOE TUCCI TOOK the CEO chair at data storage powerhouse EMC, he inherited a healthy company with an enviable track record. Under his predecessor, Mike Ruettgers, the $8.87 billion company had grown for a decade. Between 1997 and 1999 alone, revenues more than doubled; by 2000, Hopkinton, MA-based EMC was the uncontested market leader in information storage.

It's a tough act to follow--especially when your start date coincides with a downturn. Ruettgers turned over the reins in January 2001, a year after recruiting Tucci as CEO-in-training. That put Tucci in the hot seat when EMC missed its first quarter earnings projections in April for the first time in five years. But the 53-year-old CEO isn't complaining. "There are a lot of innings in a baseball game, and you haven't won or lost in the first or second one."

Tucci's trial by fire is fitting for EMC's tough environment, where sales recruits literally walk barefoot across red-hot coals in an effort to build team spirit. "Nobody cares that you set three world records elsewhere. You have to prove your mettle here," Tucci says. That culture suits Tucci, who describes himself as Type A aggressive--and more outspoken than his predecessor. "I'm the kind of guy who will blurt out [in a meeting], 'What the hell is this?,' where Mike would get the same point across in a more diffused way," he says.

Tucci began differentiating himself from Ruettgers in August 2000, while still CEO-in-training. That's when he told analysts that EMC, then a distant second, would grab market leadership in the network-attached storage market by the end of 2001. The remark was widely reported, and Tucci recalls it was the first time that employees made his goal their own. And EMC was on its way in the first quarter of 2001 when it posted revenues of $285 million in the network attached storage business while the market leader came in behind with revenues of $226 million.

Tucci still faces heat from Wall Street. EMC's stock price, which peaked at $105 last September, hit a new low of $18 in July. "I tell them we are going to respect the bottom line and be tough on expenses and costs but we are still going to invest in technology, in sales to gain share, and in service," Tucci says. "They have the wrong CEO if they expect me to be short-term-oriented."

Reported and written by Jennifer Pellet.
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Title Annotation:Joe Tucci, EMC Corp.
Author:Tucci, Joseph M.
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2001
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