EMC Co-founder Resigns Diplomatic Post

Richard Egan, literally the 'E' in EMC, has resigned as U.S. ambassador to Ireland, prompting speculation about the 66-year-old billionaire's next career move.


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Posted December 30, 2002

Colin C. Haley

Richard Egan, an EMC co-founder, has resigned as U.S. ambassador to Ireland after only 15 months on the job, prompting speculation about the 66-year-old billionaire's next career move.

A spokesman for the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC said he is unaware of any discussions about Egan returning to the company he helped grow into a data storage giant.

Among his family's other business concerns is Egan-Managed Capital, a Boston venture capital firm run by Egan's son John R. Egan, himself a former EMC executive vice president of sales. The firm's funds focus on early-stage technology companies, principally in New England. Several software and networking startups are in its portfolio.

An announcement about Egan's future plans isn't expected anytime soon. President George W. Bush must accept the resignation and then operations at the embassy must be transitioned to Egan's successor.

Egan took the coveted post in September 2001 after a lengthy confirmation process.

First, he had to convinced Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and others that his lack of diplomatic experience would not hinder his ability to represent U.S. interests in the Emerald Isle -- an important U.S. economic partner with a volatile political history.

Then, the billioniare, had to sell 10 million shares of EMC stock to avoid a conflict of interest concerns. EMC has a major manufacturing plant in Cork as well as sales offices throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland, a gateway to the European market.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Dublin told Reuters news service that Egan resigned "for personal reasons." The Boston Globe reported that the ambassador was quitting because of "frustration with the limits of his job."

Egan, who grew up in Boston's tough Dorchester section, is known as hard-charger with a penchant for bluntness. These traits served him well in the business world but may not have been as effective in diplomacy, a pursuit where subtly and patience are prized.

Egan has long been a contributor to Republican candidates and also served as a member of Bush's Technical Advisory Committee in 1999.

Literally the "E" in EMC, Egan co-founded the company in 1979 and has served as a director until his appointment as ambassador. He led the management team that took the company public in 1986 and was elected chairman in 1988. Egan was president and CEO until 1992.

Prior to EMC, Egan was an executive at several technology companies, including Intel. Egan holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Northeastern University and did graduate work at MIT's Draper Laboratory as part of the team that developed the Apollo Guidance Computer.

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