Symantec Board Shows CEO Salem The Door

A Salem witch trial? Symantec’s CEO is booted out by the board

The Symantec board has booted out Enrique Salem as CEO, replacing him after three years in the top role.

Salem will make way for Steve Bennett, who has been chairman of the board since 2011. Bennett, who starts work as chief executive immediately, was CEO at accounting software provider Intuit after a 23-year stint at General Electric.

There was no outgoing comment from Salem, but Bennett said the company was “underperforming” despite having strong assets. “While progress has been made over the last three years in many areas, it was the board’s judgment that it was in the best interests of Symantec  to make a change in the CEO,” he said.

“The board’s decision to make a leadership change was not based on any particular event or impropriety but was instead made after ongoing consideration and a deliberative process,” added Dan Schulman, Symantec’s newly-appointed lead director.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow”

Symantec confirmed to TechWeekEurope that Shakespeare-loving Salem has left the company for good and is not moving into another role. He had served a total of 19 years for the firm, but took breaks in the late 1990s and early 2000s to work on startup companies, including Ask Jeeves.

Symantec also released financial results today, showing steady figures, as revenues rose just one percent to hit $1.668 billion in the first quarter of the company’s fiscal year. “We are making progress on many fronts, but believe we can further accelerate the company’s value to employees, customers, partners and shareholders,” Bennett added.

Bob Tarzey, from analyst firm Quocirca, told TechWeekEurope Salem’s exit was likely down to uninspiring results and falls in share price.

“Even though the Q1 FY13 results look solid, they are underwhelming considering what is going on amongst some other smaller security and storage software companies that are seeing stellar growth,” Tarzey said.

“The comment from Bennett sums this up: ‘Symantec’s assets are strong and yet the company is underperforming against the opportunity’. In other words, in this sector, despite the world’s economic woes, in the area of security and storage, solid results are not good enough, which will be part of the reason the share price is down.”

Symantec’s shares have nosedived since late April, when the firm lowered its fourth-quarter outlook, citing weaker demand from business customers. The share price on the Nasdaq fell from $18.41 per share on 17 April to $13.18 on 24 July. Those share prices have started rebounding today.

Last week, the company had to deal with a technical issue, which saw a buggy update to its anti-virus software cause PCs to crash.

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