John Visentin, the tech executive who took the CEO job at Xerox four years ago, died unexpectedly on Tuesday "due to complications from an ongoing illness," the company said. He was 59.
Xerox didn't disclose where Visentin died or what illness caused his death. Xerox President Steve Bandrowczak has been named interim CEO.
"John's vision was clear, and the Xerox team will continue fulfilling it," Bandrowczak said in a statement.
James Nelson, Xerox's board chair, said in a statement that Visentin moved the company forward by keeping Xerox's printing business alive while also offering new digital and IT-focused services to clients.
Visentin held management positions at Hewlett Packard and IBM before joining Xerox. He was also the former CEO of IT consultancy Exela Technologies, according to his LinkedIn page. Visentin leaves behind a wife and five daughters.
"We are all greatly saddened by this tragic news and are keeping his family at the forefront of our thoughts in this difficult time," Bandrowczak said.
A print pioneer
For much of its existence, the company that Visentin led has been known as a print and copy machine manufacturer.
Xerox was an early pioneer in laser printers and photocopying throughout the 1970s. Decades later, the company named Ursula Burns as CEO in 2009, marking the first time in U.S. history that a Black woman led a Fortune 500 company. Burns stepped down in 2016 and Jeff Jacobson ran the company for one year until Visentin took his place.
Xerox was founded in Rochester, New York, in 1906. The company is now headquartered in Connecticut but still employs hundreds of workers in upstate New York.
Xerox officials said in the statement that Visentin led them through "unprecedented times and challenges." The company saw its revenue drop from $9.8 billion in 2018 to $7 billion last year. Employee headcount fell from about 32,400 to 23,300 worldwide during that same time period, according to company documents.
Perhaps the most dramatic chapter of Visentin's tenure took place in early 2020, when Xerox tried to acquire competitor HP. Xerox offered to buy HP for $35 billion but HP resisted, Reuters reported. At the time, both companies were facing declining sales and were trying to find new ways to grow.
Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn — one of Xerox's major stakeholders — pushed for the HP takeover, but the company eventually walked away from pursuing HP in 2020, according to Reuters.
Xerox's stock price fell about 2% in late morning trading Thursday to about $14.75 a share.
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