Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

11/18/2008
10:19 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Thompson Era At Symantec Drawing To A Close

Yesterday, the news broke that decade-long Symantec veteran John Thompson would be retiring. Symantec's board of directors appointed Enrique T. Salem, currently chief operating officer at the company, to be president and chief executive officer effective April 4, 2009.

Yesterday, the news broke that decade-long Symantec veteran John Thompson would be retiring. Symantec's board of directors appointed Enrique T. Salem, currently chief operating officer at the company, to be president and chief executive officer effective April 4, 2009.The Symantec that Thompson, now 59, took the reins of in 1998 was a much different Symantec than it is today. Back then, Symantec sold a hodgepodge of consumer software: WinFax, the contact management application Act!, as well as Norton Utilities and Norton Anti-Virus. The company's quarterly revenue, in those days, was measured in the millions, not billions.

I had the good opportunity to interview Thompson on a number of occasions. He always was sharp, articulate, and as disciplined in thought as you'd assume an IBM veteran would be. He knew his business, and the software and security industry very well.

He's also an avid duck hunter, though I was never able to confirm how good of a shot he actually is.

Some of Thompson's initial goals included transforming the company from a medium-sized seller of consumer and SMB shrink-wrapped utility and security software to a provider of enterprise applications. He also set the seemingly, back then, ambitious goal of seeing Symantec break the $1 billion mark in annual sales.

Symantec's total sales in fiscal 1999 were $632 million. They reached $1.4 billion by its 2003 fiscal year.

Thompson achieved those goals by shedding productivity applications, such as the fax, contact management, as well as its Visual Café software to focus on security and system management utilities. Those applications provided Symantec (especially the recurring antivirus subscription revenue) a cash flow that Thompson aggressively put to use.

In the summer of 2002, Symantec acquired managed security services provider Riptech, IDS software maker Recourse Technologies, as well as SecurityFocus. Over the years Symantec also acquired PowerQuest, Mountain Wave, Platform Logic, TurnTide, Brightmail, and most recently MessageLabs.

Some of those acquisitions worked out, some didn't. Some are too recent to tell.

One of Symantec's most questioned buys was application security consultancy @stake. I, for one, never quite understood @stake's fit within Symantec's ecosystem. But the most controversial acquisition of all was the December 2004 decision to buy storage software maker Veritas for $13.5 billion.

When the Symantec/Veritas deal neared shareholder approval, I interviewed both Thompson and Veritas' CEO Gary Bloom. The vision they told was to provide enterprises integrated security and storage-management software to more effectively secure data where it travels and resides.

At the time, I thought the vision was a good one. Today, with the rapid virtualization of storage, networks, and end points, it's even better.

Wall Street didn't think so. Just before the acquisition plans were made public, Symantec's stock was around $33 a share. It'd be a 52-week high the stock would never see again. Not even during the stock market boom years that remained through last October.

However, Enrique Salem believes in the future convergence of storage and security, if he's serious about the comment he made below, quoted in this Dow Jones story:

Salem, who takes over in April, said in an interview Monday that the company would continue to diversify in order to fuel stronger revenue growth, a strategy Thompson also pursued. "(Security and storage) are huge markets that ought to be able to deliver better growth for this company," he said. Focusing on customer relationships and winning market share were key goals, he added, and he pointed to the company's geographical diversity as a strength.

Strength is a good word to close on. Thompson took over a midtier consumer software company, and is leaving in place the world's largest independent security software maker. And a market share more than twice that (last time I checked) of its closest competitor, McAfee. And, oh yea, it sells the bulk of its software to enterprises.

I'd say, all in all, Thompson proved himself a good shot.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
NSA Appoints Rob Joyce as Cyber Director
Dark Reading Staff 1/15/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-28488
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-22
This affects all versions of package jquery-ui; all versions of package org.fujion.webjars:jquery-ui. When the "dialog" is injected into an HTML tag more than once, the browser and the application may crash.
CVE-2021-22847
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-22
Hyweb HyCMS-J1's API fail to filter POST request parameters. Remote attackers can inject SQL syntax and execute commands without privilege.
CVE-2021-22849
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-22
Hyweb HyCMS-J1 backend editing function does not filter special characters. Users after log-in can inject JavaScript syntax to perform a stored XSS (Stored Cross-site scripting) attack.
CVE-2020-8567
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes Secrets Store CSI Driver Vault Plugin prior to v0.0.6, Azure Plugin prior to v0.0.10, and GCP Plugin prior to v0.2.0 allow an attacker who can create specially-crafted SecretProviderClass objects to write to arbitrary file paths on the host filesystem, including /var/lib/kubelet/pods.
CVE-2020-8568
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes Secrets Store CSI Driver versions v0.0.15 and v0.0.16 allow an attacker who can modify a SecretProviderClassPodStatus/Status resource the ability to write content to the host filesystem and sync file contents to Kubernetes Secrets. This includes paths under var/lib/kubelet/pods that conta...