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What it’s like to be a 65-year startup CEO in Silicon Valley’s youth-loving culture

When John Thompson retired from the CEO role at Symantec after 10 enormously successful 10 years, he had planned a quiet life as an angel investor and board member.

That didn’t happen. Today, at age 65, he’s the CEO of Virtual Instruments, one of the startups he invested in, a job he has been doing for five years come April.

And his decade at Symantec was after a long 28-year career with IBM, rising to general manager of IBM Americas. That’s ironic, because IBM is one of the few tech companies that still holds onto an ancient tradition where a CEO must retire at age 60. (We’ll see if they change it for Ginni Rometty, 57. But word is her predecessor, Sam Palmisano didn’t want to retire in 2012 and, well, he retired.)

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