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Atkinson steps down as X-IO CEO

Less than three months after changing its name, X-IO is changing its leader.

Alan Atkinson is leaving as CEO after two years on the job to become chairman, and Oak Investment Partners general partner John Beletic will take over as CEO.  Oak is X-IO’s major investor. X-IO will officially announce the CEO change Tuesday.

Atkinson told today that he felt he had completed a transition of the company during his tenure as CEO, and it is time for a more operational leader. He said as chairman he will focus largely on X-IO’s international sales.

“I view this as the end of our transition,” he said. “We have a new name, new headquarters, new executive team, a more effective cost structure, and a clear focus. I feel like it makes sense for me to still be involved as chairman, and have someone come in and do operations.”

X-IO moved its headquarters from Eden Prairie, Minn., to Colorado Springs early this year. It changed its name from Xiotech in August, at the same time it changed the name of its main product from Hybrid ISE to Hyper ISE. Hyper ISE mixes solid state and hard drives inside ISE self-contained drives that use auto-healing technology that Xiotech acquired from Seagate in 2007.

Atkinson said XIO’s product focus would remain on performance-driven storage.

He said Beletic will work out of Colorado, which should help improve operations. Atkinson lives in Florida and spends a lot of time on the road meeting with customers and partners.

VP of worldwide sales Mark Glasgow has also left the company, and XIO will promote Shawn Kinnear (Western U.S.) and Dave Ornstein (Eastern U.S.) as sales VPs.

Atkinson said he doesn’t expect any other major changes in the short term.

“The idea is that we did all that work before I transitioned so John can just run things,” Atkinson said.

People in the industry may wonder if Atkinson did enough. Other tier two storage vendors such as 3PAR, Isilon, Compellent, BlueArc and LSI Engenio have been acquired for prices ranging from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in the time Aktinson ran X-IO. There’s no evidence of profitability for X-IO, although Atkinson said the Hybrid ISE launch was the most successful in the vendor’s history and he claims that the vendor is shooting for an IPO.

“We’re doing all things that companies do when they try to go public,” he said. “John and I share that goal.”

But analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group said X-IO may be running out of time because the IPO market is cold.

“I’m surprised at the patience Oak has shown,” he said. “They don’t want to see the money they’ve put in go to waste, but they have to figure out how much more they want to put in.”

Taneja said X-IO’s technology is valuable, but he doesn’t see any obvious candidates to buy the company whole.

“If they don’t make an IPO, they probably can get scooped up in an asset sale,” he said. “If they’re waiting for big money, it could be a long time coming.”

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