Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins has paid the price for the company's woeful recent performance and has quit the personal computer manufacturer as it was forced to post a fresh profits warning.
Mr Rollins will step down immediately to be replaced by founder Michael Dell, who already serves as the computer maker's chairman.
His resignation comes after a disastrous year for Dell, which issued two other profits warnings, was forced to recall more than 4m laptops because of battery problems, lost its market leadership to Hewlett-Packard and was hit with an SEC investigation into its accounting which is still continuing.
Just last month, Mr Rollins insisted the company was back on track, but even then he warned investors to expect more shocks. "The market is looking for absolutes that are not always possible," he said. The picture appears not to have improved, with the company warning last night that fourth quarter profits and earnings would miss estimates.
However, investors preferred to focus on his departure, sending the shares up 5pc in after-hours trading. Mr Rollins had long been criticised for failing to deliver a strategic vision for the group in the face of a resurgent HP.
Although billed as a resignation, it is understood Mr Rollins' departure came at the urging of directors, who had lost patience with his performance since being granted the chief executive's job by Mr Dell in 2004.
"The board believes that Michael's vision and leadership are critical to building Dell's leadership in the technology industry for the long term," said director Samuel Nunn. "There is no better person to run Dell at this time than the man who created the Direct Model and who has built this company over the last 23 years."