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Symantec, BlackBerry, Yahoo Struggle Through Transition

Three tech giants made news this week while trying to course-correct after some turmoil.

On Thursday, security-giant Symantec named Michael Brown to be its full-time CEO. Brown previously served as “interim CEO” after former CEO Steve Bennett was unceremoniously dumped in March amid a sales slump.

Since then, Brown has made improvement on a variety of fronts, according to a release issued by the company.

“As interim CEO, Mike brought energy and intensity to the organization that created momentum in the business, made significant improvements to Symantec’s operating and financial performance and brought additional talent to our industry-leading team,” said Symantec Chairman Dan Schulman in a prepared statement. “Most importantly, he demonstrated vision and creativity as he has worked with the board and the management team to develop a strategic plan based on focused investment and innovation in key areas of high customer need.”

Despite the stability he brought to the company, Symantec has nonetheless been buffeted during the last two quarters. Former global channel operations chief Garret Jones, for example, left in May for a Texas startup named Spanning, which provides cloud-based backup services and more. Later in the summer, North American channel executive John Eldh left and then surfaced in September at CA Technologies, where he serves as senior vice president of global security sales.

Yahoo, meanwhile, made news this week after an activist investor, Starboard, delivered a letter to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer demanding that she consider a merger with AOL, another early Internet-era market leader. Yahoo has been in the spotlight all week since the record IPO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, of which Yahoo has a healthy stake. The 15 percent of Alibaba that Yahoo owns is worth more than Yahoo’s core business, records show.

Since Alibaba went public earlier this month, shareholders have been eager to see how Yahoo would put the windfall to use. After the company sold a portion of its position, some Yahoo watchers began grumbling. Though Yahoo has moved of late to acquire Flurry, whose technology will help app developers, publishers and advertisers create new mobile experiences, Yahoo’s revenue has remained flat while profits have slid.

Blackberry, finally, also made new this week. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that company chairman John Chen said he hopes that Blackberry will return to the consumer market someday. But during a week when Apple reported that it has sold 10 million units in a mere few days, the prospects for a new Blackberry consumer device seem small.

On the upside, Blackberry reported improved results recently. Losses for the fiscal year recently ended narrowed to 2 cents per share. And Chen said that the company is “on track to reach break-even cash flow by the end of this fiscal year and to return to profit next fiscal year.”


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