John W. Thompson (born April 24, 1949) is the CEO of Virtual Instruments and the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Microsoft Corporation. He is a former vice-president at IBM and the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Symantec Corporation. During his tenure as CEO of Symantec, he was the only African-American leading a major technology company. Thompson later became an independent director on the board of Microsoft and on February 4, 2014 he was named the Chairman of the board.
Born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, Thompson attended John F. Kennedy High School in Riviera Beach, Florida (now Suncoast Community High School). He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Florida A&M in 1971 and a Master’s degree in Management (M.B.A.) from the Sloan Fellows program of the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1983.
Before moving on to become Symantec’s CEO in 1999, Thompson’s 28-year career with IBM Corporation included senior executive positions in sales, marketing and software development, and lastly as general manager of IBM Americas as well as membership in the company’s Worldwide Management Council.
In September 2002, Thompson was appointed to the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC) which makes recommendations regarding the security of the critical infrastructure of the United States.
Thompson purchased a 20 percent share of the Golden State Warriors NBA team in 2005 along with three other Silicon Valley businessmen under the umbrella of the Bay Area Basketball Partners, L.L.C.
In April 2006, Forbes published a list of the most highly compensated CEOs. Thompson was ranked #8 with a total compensation of $71.84 million (USD).
Thompson retired from his CEO post on April 4, 2009, turning the company’s reins over to long-time Symantec executive Enrique Salem.
In 2010, Thompson was recognized for his commitment to education in Silicon Valley at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation’s 2010 Pioneers & Purpose event. He received the Pioneer Business Leader award, which is awarded to individuals who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in business and education.
On 4 February 2014, Thompson was appointed as Chairman of Microsoft, succeeding Bill Gates. Prior to being named Chairman, Thompson had been a member of the Microsoft Board for two years. He stated that he joined the board because he had “admired Microsoft for many, many, many years.” Thompson said he considered Microsoft to be “one of the true, iconic companies in our country.”
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