Ousted Symantec COO Stephen Gillett

Ousted Symantec COO Stephen Gillett

Symantec Axes COO, Eliminates Position as Breakup Begins

Symantec axed COO Stephen Gillett and eliminated his former position altogether, in a move suggesting the company already is taking initial steps to split itself into separate security and storage operations.

Symantec (SYMC) has axed chief operating officer (COO) Stephen Gillett and eliminated his former position altogether, in a move suggesting the company already is taking initial steps to split itself into separate security and storage operations.

In an 8-K Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Nov. 13, Symantec said Gillett would remain with the company in a non-executive role during a transitional period and will receive “certain cash severance and equity acceleration benefits for involuntary termination.”

Former Symantec boss Steve Bennett appointed Gillett as COO in December 2012 as part of his overhaul of the company’s executive suite. Gillett, a former Best Buy (BBY) Digital Global Marketing and Strategy executive vice president and president, handled marketing, communications and IT functions. At Best Buy, Gillett oversaw the retailers’ digital, e-commerce, marketing, information technology, customer insights, enterprise strategy, corporate development, new business ventures, enterprise customer care and channel design.

He also previously served as Starbucks CIO and as Digital Ventures executive vice president.

Gillett is known as a serious gamer, regarded as one of the most innovative Guild Masters in World of Warcraft.

In October, Symantec disclosed its plans to split into two publicly traded companies, a process the company’s top brass said would take more than a year to accomplish. The security vendor has said the split will include organizational changes and layoffs.

According to its most recent 10-Q SEC filing dated Nov. 7, as of Oct. 3 Symantec already had incurred $17 million in charges related to the breakup plan and as of Nov. 3 anticipated another $100 million to $120 in severance and facilities costs, with total restructuring and separation costs expected to rise to $180 million to $220 million.

Symantec’s breakup plans followed word of a similar move by Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) to split into separate PC/printer and enterprise organizations. In a VAR Guy poll following both companies’ disclosures, 45 percent of readers considered both divisions as beneficial to the channel. Some 24 percent believed the separations wouldn’t much matter and 21 percent thought no substantive changes were likely to occur in the short term. About 10 percent were unaware that both companies had divided their operations into two parts.

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