Wall Street Applauds Symantec CEO Change, SYMC Earnings
Symantec today announced a CEO change and Q1 2013 earnings. The news lifted Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) shares more than 10 percent this morning on Wall Street. So why is Wall Street applauding the switch from CEO Enrique Salem to Intuit and GE veteran Steve Bennett? Here are some guesses.
While Salem did a lot of things right for Symantec, he also stumbled a bit with the balancing act between direct sales and channel partner sales. Salem also inherited a somewhat disjointed Symantec from former CEO John Thompson.
Under Thompson, the company in 2005 acquired Veritas — predicting that the storage and security markets would converge. That happened to some extent, but Symantec stumbled a few times as it tried to coordinate the storage and security message. Also, the Veritas and Symantec customer bases involved different types of buyers; it was difficult for Symantec and channel partners to find executives who were prepared to buy both product lines.
As COO and then CEO, Salem smoothed out some of the Veritas and Symantec issues. But he also made a promise to Wall Street that alienated partners. Back in 2008 while still COO, Salem told Wall Street that Symantec would increasingly sell direct. The move put then-Channel Chief Julie Parrish in a bind, as she tried to assure VARs that Symantec was committed to the channel.
As Salem moved into the CEO slot and Parrish exited for NetApp, some channel partners moved onto rival security software providers. But Channel Chief Randy Cochran (who exited earlier this year) was a calming voice who kept many channel partners loyal.
All that said, there are some key takeaways: Salem apparently wanted it both ways — more direct sales revenues while retaining channel loyalty. Plus, Salem had to lead Symantec’s charge into cloud computing and mobile computing. Apparently, neither Wall Street nor Bennett — Symantec’s chairman turned CEO — were satisfied with Salem’s progress on those fronts.
Fast forward to this morning, and Bennett sits in Symantec’s CEO seat. Wall Street’s initial reaction is positive. Will partners be equally upbeat? The VAR Guy is listening.