John Visentin, the Xerox chief executive who led the technology and photocopying company through a tumultuous pandemic at a time when demand for paper documents and ink declined, died Tuesday. He was 59 years old.
Visentin, who became CEO in May 2018 and was also a vice chairman, died of “complications from an ongoing illness,” the company said in a statement. A Xerox spokesman would not share details about the illness or say whether Visentin told the company.
Steve Bandrowczak, Xerox president and chief operating officer, will serve as interim chief executive officer, the company said.
“John’s vision was clear and the Xerox team will continue to deliver on it, not only to fulfill our commitments to our shareholders, customers and partners, but also to further John’s legacy,” Mr. Bandrowczak said in a statement.
Before taking the top job at Xerox, Mr. Visentin was immersed in the world of technology and business: he worked as an advisor to the president of Exela Technologies, an automation company, and was an operating partner of Advent International, a firm of private capital. .
After joining Xerox, Mr. Visentin looked to expand the company’s offerings. For years, Xerox had been known as a center of office technology, especially its xerographic copier or Xerox machine, a bulky and ubiquitous product that commercialized the process of making photographic copies on paper.
Visentin paid more attention “to IT and digital services, financial services and disruptive technologies,” said James Nelson, chairman of the Xerox board of directors, in a statement.
Under Mr. Visentin, the company also tried to get into 3D printing.
His election as chief executive in 2018 was preceded by the cancellation of Xerox’s merger deal with Japan’s Fujifilm after reaching a settlement with an activist shareholder and another major investor who strongly opposed the deal.
In November 2019, Xerox made a takeover offer to HP, a business synonymous with printers, in an effort to combine the two companies and cut costs.
The merger was supported by Visentin, who seemed to believe the industry needed some form of consolidation to appease shareholders worried about the accelerating erosion of the traditional printing business.
The deal soured after HP found that Xerox’s cash-and-stock offer undervalued the company. Later that month, he formally rejected the takeover bid, dealing a severe blow to Visentin’s business plans.
A graduate of Concordia University in Montreal, Mr. Visentin began his career at IBM, according to his LinkedIn profile. He worked there for more than 20 years and then moved to HP. From 2013 to 2017, he was CEO of Novitex Enterprise Solutions, says his company bio.
Xerox described Mr. Visentin in its statement as a leader “who led the company through unprecedented times and challenges.”
He is survived by his wife and five daughters.