Symantec boss Greg Clark exits biz amid dismal financials

Troubled security house keeps up trend of sudden resignations

Greg Clark, CEO and president of Symantec, has "stepped down" suddenly and with no permanent replacement lined up, just as his predecessor did.

The beleaguered security house said Clark's departure was "effective immediately" and it named semiconductor veteran and current Symantec director Richard Hill as interim boss.

"As we enter into a new financial year, Greg and the board agreed that now is the right time to transition leadership, and we are confident in Rick's ability to drive the company forward while we work to identify a permanent successor."

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Clark was the boss of Blue Coat when Symantec bought the business for $4.65bn in 2016, and he was chosen to fill the vacancy left by Mike Brown, who had also left abruptly.

The changes were made public last night as Symantec outlined financial results for Q4 of its fiscal 2019, which showed a disappointing set of sales figures though cuts in expenses helped lift profit.

On a conference call, Hill – who has worked with Symantec as an advisor since October and been a director since January – said he was told by Clark in April that "he had personal issues he needed to attend and wanted to spend more time with his ageing father".

But the timing, as Symantec released numbers for the three months ended 29 March, was impeccable: sales dipped 1.7 per cent to $1.19bn, lower than analyst estimates of $1.21bn.

"Enterprise revenue came in slightly below the low-end of our guidance range, with consumer revenue at the high-end of our guidance range," said Nick Noviello, Symantec's CFO, who confirmed at the end of January he is also leaving the company.

Former Logitech beancounter Vincent Pilette is taking over the finance division at Symantec.

A drop in operating expenses – lower spending on R&D and general and admin costs – played a part as operating profit came in at $107m compared to $6m a year ago. Net profit was $34m versus a loss of $59m.

For the year, revenue slipped to $4.731bn from $4.834bn and net profit was just $31m, a huge dive from the $1.138bn reported a year earlier.

It has been a challenging time for Symantec: a shareholder is suing the company, claiming senior management fraudulently massaged the profit and loss accounts; 8 per cent of the workforce were axed to counter falling enterprise sales; and it was forced to launch an internal probe into claims by an ex-staffer about accounting issues, one which the SEC is now investigating too. ®

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