From CIO to CEO in Sixty Seconds

Becoming a CEO may seem like a dream come true, but Joe DeTullio’s real-world odyssey, from the top tech spot at Universal Music Group to relative anonymity in a sea of start-ups, came with a steep learning curve, and the requisite share of nail-biting. Here’s how he made the decision, and how he’s living with it—so far.

CIO INSIGHT: You had this plum CIO job, and you gave it up to become CEO of a start-up. What were you thinking?

DETULLIO: Wouldn’t you just love to hear me say I always wanted to do this, and I always thought that one day I would? I didn’t.

It was more like a convergence of events. I was so deeply involved in the planning of this thing. I mean, meetings with 12 attorneys and only two other people. It was taking up so much of my time. I finally got to thinking, “Okay, here you are. You’ve been at Universal for four years. What’s next on the horizon? How long do you stay at UMG? And then what? Go for a bigger, better CIO gig, or venture off into something else? And if I’m going to venture off into something else, what?”

Once I started going through that thought process, I asked myself what the chances were that two, three years from now an opportunity like this will just drop into my lap? And I pretty much concluded they were slim to none. So I threw my hat into the ring.

So what’s different about it?

I will admit, I’m kind of discovering some of those differences as every day goes by. I would like to say that on one hand it’s not that big a shift, because I think that in my whole professional career, although I’ve been an “IT guy,” I’ve always kind of had more of a business focus than not.

But making the switch from being an expense center to being a profit center has all sorts of little nuances to it that I definitely am picking up on more and more. Obviously, the goals are different. You have to worry about all sides of the equation, instead of just one side of the equation.

But even there, I would say when I was a CIO, I was always thinking, “Yeah, okay, maybe I’m an expense to people. But how does what we do contribute to the revenue, and how does what we do add value?” And even if you’re just reducing costs, you’re still contributing in a positive way.

Regrets? Second thoughts? Night sweats?

In no particular order: My No. 1 risk is the success of the solution. Given my knowledge of the history of failed royalty platform development efforts in the music industry, clearly that is at the top of my list of concerns.

But I’ve convinced myself that because of the commitment of Universal and Warner, this time it will be different.

I won’t tell you how much money I make, but—how can I put this?—I did not take a salary increase. And depending on how you value some of the items I’ve given up, if you did the math, you would probably conclude that I took a salary decrease.

Also, I would be lying if I said that the thought of making a big career change didn’t cross my mind. I mean, I guess you could say it’s pretty gutsy, right? I mean, I’m taking a pretty big risk.

CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight offers thought leadership and best practices in the IT security and management industry while providing expert recommendations on software solutions for IT leaders. It is the trusted resource for security professionals who need network monitoring technology and solutions to maintain regulatory compliance for their teams and organizations.

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