Symantec Fires CEO Steve Bennett, Appoints Interim Replacement

Security software giant Symantec has fired CEO Steve Bennett and named board member Michael Brown as interim CEO and president.

It is the second time in two years that the company has sent its CEO packing. In July 2012, Symantec terminated Enrique Salem amid slowing sales and shrinking profits.

When the company named Bennett as his replacement in 2012, shares of Symantec jumped 14 percent, the largest one-day gain in more than a decade, according to Bloomberg. In after hours trading Thursday, ironically, shares dropped more than 6 percent after the news of Bennett’s ouster was made public.

In a prepared statement released Thursday, Symantec Chairman Daniel Schulman said Bennett’s efforts to focus the company on organizational realignment, cost reduction and process effectiveness “helped establish a solid foundation for Symantec’s future.”

Schulman also reiterated the guidance given to investors and analysts previously, saying that the company expects greater-than 5 percent organic revenue growth and better-than 30 percent non-GAAP operating margin targets by fiscal 2017.

“Our priority is now to identify a leader who can leverage our company’s assets and leadership team to drive the next stage of Symantec’s product innovation and growth. This considered decision was the result of an ongoing deliberative process, and not precipitated by any event or impropriety,” Schulman said.

The ouster of Bennett comes at a critical juncture for Symantec, which is in the midst of a major overhaul of its channel programs. In an interview on Tuesday, Symantec’s Garrett Jones, vice president of global channel operations, praised Bennett for pushing the company to re-architect its partner programs for the new world of cloud and service-oriented computing.

After months of preparation, the company is very nearly ready to go live with its new program, which favors value over volume, introduces competencies, reduces complexity and increases rewards and benefits for the company’s highest performing partners.

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