Network: De Luca's Peripheral Vision Logitech's New CEO Is Determined Change the Image of `the Company That Makes Mice'. by Cliff Joseph
Joseph, Cliff, The Independent (London, England)
THE PRESS release describes Guerrino De Luca as "one of the most enigmatic CEOs in the industry". But that's just public realtions- speak for "dark, Italian, and he doesn't come to the UK very often". He certainly doesn't look enigmatic posed with a plastic steering wheel clipped on top of a Victorian tea-table that probably isn't used to this sort of abuse.
The steering wheel - titled the WingMan Formula Force Racing System - is the latest product from Logitech, which is perhaps Europe's most successful manufacturer of computer peripherals. The firm has its marketing headquarters in California, but it was founded and still has its research and development operation in Switzerland, which, De Luca notes happily, "has some advantages for tax".
De Luca was appointed president and the chief executive of Logitech six months ago and was visiting the UK to launch the WingMan and several other products at the recent ECTS trade show in London. To most computer owners, Logitech is just "the company that makes mice", which is like saying Microsoft is just a company that makes software. Logitech makes 45 million mice yearly for the world's top 20 computer manufacturers, and if you've just bought one of Apple's new iMacs then your trendy green mouse was designed by Apple but built by Logitech.
Its mouse and trackball business is worth about $300m a year, and an assortment of keyboards, joysticks and other peripherals bring Logitech's annual business to more than $400m. Logitech, however, has saturated the mouse market and De Luca's job is to figure out how to keep the firm growing. He may not look comfortable sitting in front of his WingMan steering wheel, but he does have a track record of helping small companies get bigger.
De Luca began his career at Olivetti, where he worked his way through the ranks to become director of networking products. It was during his nine years at Apple Computer, however, that he joined the industry's big league. He led Apple's European operations through a period of strong growth in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then he was appointed chief executive of Claris, Apple's independent software division.
"I had a great time at Claris steering a medium-sized company to world- class level," he beams, still not looking very enigmatic. He was certainly a success at Claris. While Apple began to head downhill in the mid-Nineties, De Luca turned the previously loss-making Claris into one of the world's top-10 software companies. His success at Claris left him untainted by the problems in the rest of Apple, and when the then-Apple chief executive Gil Amelio took the axe to his management team De Luca was appointed to the key position of executive vice-president for worldwide marketing.
At our last meeting, just over a year ago, De Luca looked like a man heading for the top spot at Apple. …