The right watchman

  @FortuneMagazine February 27, 2014: 7:20 AM ET
CTD17 john thompson

As companies change, so must their culture, Thompson says.


Newly appointed Microsoft chairman John Thompson recently spoke with Fortune's Adam Lashinsky about his latest passion projects.

Fortune: You ran part of IBM's software business, then Symantec, and now you're the chairman of Microsoft's board. Far less is known about the 265-person, $75-million-in-revenue Virtual Instruments, where you are CEO. Where did it come from?

John Thompson: Virtual Instruments was created in 2008 as a private-equity-led carve-out from Finisar, the networking-components maker. I joined in 2010 as CEO, thinking it would be a part-time job until we found a permanent leader. It's been a full-time job.

What is the business and why the split from Finisar?

Virtual Instruments monitors the routing of information between servers and storage to make sure the whole data center is healthy. We can tell you where the performance and utilization problems are for all your networks. Finisar sold technology to other technology companies. It did not have the DNA of selling to big businesses, which is what we do.

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