Kara Swisher

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After Stepping Down as Sybase CEO Last Week, John Chen Joins Silver Lake as Senior Adviser Today

John Chen

Private equity firm Silver Lake has appointed former Sybase CEO John Chen as a senior adviser. Chen had a long tenure at the SAP-owned enterprise mobility and database software and services company, having served as chairman and CEO since 1998.

SAP acquired Sybase in 2010 for $5.8 billion, but Chen stayed on until he stepped down just last Friday.

Chen was widely credited with turning Sybase around, as well as spearheading its moves into the fast-growing mobile enterprise arena.

In an interview with Bloomberg, the 57-year-old tech exec said:

“It’s time for me to relinquish the ownership of this franchise. I always thought about this like marrying off your daughter. You know it’s the right thing to do, you just want to hold on a little more — but it’s time to move on to other challenges.”

Joining the powerful Silver Lake, which is a big tech investor, appears to be that very challenge.

“I am very pleased to join Silver Lake, which is a central player in the global technology industry and really the only firm that works at large scale with a true tech focus,” said Mr. Chen in a statement.

Before Sybase, Chen was CEO and president of Siemens Pyramid, a unit of Siemens Nixdorf. He currently is on the boards of Disney and Wells Fargo. He is a graduate of Brown University and the California Institute of Technology.

“John will play a critical role in evaluating potential new investments and driving operational improvements and other strategic initiatives across our portfolio companies,” said Silver Lake managing director Charles Giancarlo, also in a statement. “His deep roots in the technology sector, with more than three decades of operational experience, as well as expertise on a range of political and economic policy issues, especially in Asia, will be extremely valuable.”


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google