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Former Citrix CEO defends company against VMware

Sanjay Poonen, VMware’s chief operating officer, actively promotes his company on Twitter — sometimes at the expense of competitors.

In the past few weeks, Poonen tweeted a news story about BlackBerry’s declining software revenue, citing it as evidence of VMware’s growth in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market. And he encouraged attendees of Microsoft’s partner conference to ditch Intune, that company’s EMM product, in favor of VMware’s AirWatch.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Poonen weighed in on Kirill Tatarinov’s sudden departure as Citrix CEO, posting this tweet to his 19,000-plus followers:

What was surprising, however, was the response he received from Mark Templeton, who served as Citrix CEO from 2001 to 2015. Templeton, who tweets just a few times per month and typically takes a more subdued approach, did not hold back in his defense of his former employer. He even compared Poonen to a certain other bombastic Twitter user:

Having four CEOs in less than two years is never a good sign for any company. It would be naïve to expect VMware to ignore the situation at Citrix and not try to take advantage. That said, it’s quite a leap to imply, as Poonen did, that VMware’s push into the end-user computing market caused the turmoil at Citrix.

Yes, Citrix did drop out of the leaders quadrant in this year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for EMM. But as we reported yesterday, that’s more likely because of Citrix’s confusing Microsoft partnership in that market, not anything that VMware has done. And although VMware has made significant strides in desktop and application virtualization, Citrix still has the lead in these areas.

Furthermore, Citrix has reported successful financial earnings as of late. Profits increased by nearly $217 million last year, and the stock price is more than double what it was two years ago. The problem isn’t that Citrix isn’t turning a profit or making money for investors. The problem appears to be that Citrix isn’t turning as much of a profit or making as much money for investors as the board of directors would like.

That doesn’t mean the future is all rosy for Citrix. Existing customers aren’t all buying in on its cloud-first vision. And pivoting to a security and analytics provider will be a daunting task, as those have never been major focal points for the vendor. VMware’s competitive messaging would be more effective if it focused on these issues.

As for Templeton, his rebuke of Poonen wasn’t the only interesting thing he had to say on Twitter this week. In response to a tweet noting that there have been more Citrix CEOs in two years than Microsoft has had in 42 years, he wrote:

Update: After the publication of this article, Poonen tweeted this reply to Templeton: