Edward Zander

Chairman and chief executive officer, Motorola

Nationality: American.

Born: January 12, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York.

Education: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, BS, 1968; Boston University, MBA, 1975.

Family: Married Mona (maiden name unknown); children: two.

Career: Raytheon Company, 1968–1973, engineer; Data General Corporation, 1973–1982, senior marketing positions; Apollo Computers, 1982–1988, vice president for marketing; Sun Microsystems, 1988–1991, vice president for corporate marketing; 1991–1995, president of SunSoft; 1995–2002, president and COO; Silver Lake Partners, 2003, managing director; Motorola, 2003–, chairman and CEO.

Address: Motorola, 1303 East Algonquin Road, Schaumburg, Illinois 60196; http://www.motorola.com.

■ After spending 15 successful years at Sun Microsystems, Edward Zander was elected to serve as chairman and chief executive officer at Motorola in 2003. Zander began his career as an engineer but before long switched his focus to marketing. During his successful stints in the marketing departments at Data General Corporation and Apollo Computers during the 1970s and 1980s he earned a reputation as one of the top salesmen in the computer industry. He was hired by Sun in 1988 and later served as the president of Sun's software company, SunSoft, before being named corporate president and chief operating officer in 1995. He spent time as a managing partner for a private-equity fund before being hired by Motorola in December 2003. The Brooklyn native was known for being an outspoken leader and a no-nonsense manager.


Zander was the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Greece; his father reportedly dreamed of being a lawyer but instead

Edward Zander. AP/Wide World Photos.
Edward Zander.
AP/Wide World Photos

settled for a job as a furrier in order to support his ill parents. Zander was given the nickname "Fast Eddie" by his friends largely because of his Brooklyn roots. According to a Boston Globe article, he frequently demonstrated the "hustle of a street kid spoiling for a good fight"; Zander himself remarked, "I'm from New York, so I'm New York fast" (June 19, 2000).

Zander's first career choice was electrical engineering, which he studied at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. After graduating in 1968, he moved to Boston to fill a position as an engineer at the defense supply firm Ray theon Company. However Zander quickly learned that he was, as he described to the Boston Globe , a "lousy engineer" (June 19, 2000). After spending five years with Raytheon he accepted a position as a marketer with Data General Corporation, one of the pioneers of microcomputing. Two years later he had earned his MBA at Boston University. His time with Data General proved successful, with the company's sales increasing from $7 million in 1973, when he joined the company, to $500 million in 1982.


Although Data General grew during the 1970s and early 1980s, the company had difficulty competing in the rapidly growing computer market. In 1982 Zander accepted a position as vice president of corporate marketing at Apollo Computers, based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Apollo made its name as the developer of the first networked workstation, the market for which Apollo led throughout much of the decade. During the 1980s Apollo focused on selling to engineering firms, which required a great deal of computing power to run graphics programs. In 1987 Zander demonstrated foresight in proclaiming, "The idea of putting a workstation on everyone's desk is coming. The day of the computer as a competitive and strategic weapon has arrived—and the workstation is the backbone of the revolution" (July 27, 1987).

In his first year with Apollo, Zander caught the attention of Scott McNealy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, which had also developed a workstation during the early 1980s. Zander later said that he was both amused and annoyed when McNealy continued to call him about joining Sun, which grew at a faster rate than Apollo during that decade; by 1985 the two companies were direct competitors. Three years later Sun had become a $1 billion business, and Apollo, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 1989, had lost much of its market share. Zander finally agreed to join Sun as its vice president of corporate marketing in 1988.


When Zander joined Sun, the company was still in the business of producing workstations. After three years in corporate marketing Zander was promoted to serve as president of SunSoft, the company's software branch. Sun had established the subsidiary to develop and market the Solaris UNIX operating system, a competitor to Microsoft's Windows. Although the branch experienced some setbacks—such as its inability to establish the software as a standard on many Intel-based systems—by 1995 SunSoft had emerged as a $500 million business, and Zander had earned a reputation as a top-notch salesman. One analyst observed in PC Week , "He has been a part of very significant events in the workstation industry and instrumental in the acceptance of UNIX in commercial computing" (October 16, 1995).

Zander's success as president of SunSoft led to his appointment in 1995 as Sun's president and chief operating officer, as which he became responsible for the company's computer division. Within six months Zander completely restructured the division, shifting its focus from workstation machines alone to a broader product base. Under Zander's direction Sun marketed a more complete vision of networked computing that included less emphasis on stand-alone computers and more emphasis on the creation of Web sites and corporate networks. In four years Sun's computer servers became an industry standard. Between 1995 and 2000 the company's market value increased from $9 billion to $146 billion.

Like many high-tech companies Sun fell upon hard times in the early 2000s. The company had planned to further develop its Internet presence, but the dot-com boom collapsed in 2001, and Sun suffered. Zander made clear that he wanted to run his own company, and McNealy had no plans to leave his job. In May 2002 Zander announced the he was leaving Sun.


After leaving Sun in 2002, Zander spent a year as a managing partner for Silver Lake Partners, a private-equity fund. During this time Motorola was struggling with its top two businesses, computer chips and cell phones; in December 2003 Motorola announced the election of Zander as the company's chairman and chief executive officer. Analysts expected Zander to reinvigorate the company through the use of his broad leadership skills. Since his days with Sun, Zander had developed a reputation as an extroverted, no-nonsense manager. After Motorola announced that he would lead the company, Zander noted in the Wall Street Journal Europe , "We need a sense of urgency. The execution is not what it should be. I have this Motorola camera phone; it's a great product, but it should have been out a while ago, and we should have been marketing the heck out of the thing" (December 18, 2003).

Zander served on the board of directors at Seagate Technology and as the director of several educational and nonprofit organizations, including the Jason Foundation for Education, the science advisory board for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the advisory board for the School of Management at Boston University.

See also entries on Motorola, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Drucker, Jesse, and Joann S. Lublin, "Computer-Industry Veteran to Shake Telecom Firm Out of Its Complacency," Wall Street Journal Europe , December 18, 2003.

Feder, Barnaby J., "New Chief to Take Reins as Motorola Takes on Challenge of Rivals," New York Times , January 3, 2004.

Flynn, Laurie, "Coming from the Shadows," PC Week , October 16, 1995, p. A8.

Kukec, Anna Marie, "Zander Seeks Stronger Focus for Motorola," Chicago Daily Herald , June 20, 2004.

Patterson, William Pat, "The Power of the Workstation," Industry Week , January 27, 1987, pp. 29–33.

Pham, Alex, "'Fast Eddie,' the Man Who Lit a Fire Under Sun," Boston Globe , June 19, 2000.

—Matthew C. Cordon

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