Symantec fires CEO, appoints interim replacement

Bennett took over the security and backup company less than two years ago

Symantec fired its second CEO in less than two years on Thursday, dismissing Steve Bennett and putting a board member in charge while the security vendor searches for a permanent replacement.

Bennett took the reins from former president and CEO Enrique Salem in July 2012 after Salem was dismissed amid weak financial results. Bennett has also resigned from Symantec's board, according to a press release.

Symantec went through a major reorganization under Bennett, which the company said had "helped establish a solid foundation for Symantec's future." His termination was part of an ongoing process and not in response to any event or impropriety, according to Symantec. But the company said it needs a leader who can "drive the next stage of Symantec's product innovation and growth."

Board member Michael Brown will serve as interim president and CEO during an executive search that will begin immediately.

Also on Thursday, Symantec reiterated its guidance for the fourth quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, including slightly higher profit and fatter margins than a year earlier, on lower revenue.

Bennett had taken over with a promise to reorganize Symantec to better compete in the mobile arena and compete there as effectively as it had in PCs.

"The need for protecting and managing your information has never been stronger, and we must act aggressively to capture a growing share of this market," Interim CEO Brown said in the release.

Symantec's security business depends too much on endpoint software, such as PC antivirus tools, while competitors come out with more modern offerings, said Forrester Research security analyst Rick Holland. Fast-moving rivals include Palo Alto Networks, which makes next-generation firewalls, and FireEye, with advanced anti-malware software that doesn't rely on traditional signatures, he said.

Endpoint products like Symantec's aren't going away, but many would-be buyers today pick alternatives such as Microsoft's Forefront, which is included with other Microsoft licenses, he said.

"They need to have an innovative solution out to customers sooner than later," Holland said. Bennett's firing indicates that change wasn't happening fast enough for the company's board, he said.

Righting the ship may require taking the company private so it can make major acquisitions and investments in new technologies without having to meet Wall Street's expectations at the same time, Holland said. "I think it's really difficult to do a turnaround if you're a public company," he said.

The company might also split itself up, spinning off either its security or its backup and recovery business and focusing on just one of them, Holland said. Integrating an acquired company into the current sprawling organization would be a challenge, he said.

In after-hours trading late Thursday, Symantec's shares (Nasdaq: SYMC) were down US$1.26 at $19.65.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuespersonnelsymantecstoragesecurity

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?